One of my current clients is woman who has had an important career as an executive of a large, metropolitan hospital. She has been, and is, by anyone’s standards, a leader.
She recently left her high-level leadership position to build her own consulting business and work on a book. In the process of shopping her book to publishers, she discovered what is likely not a very new requirement in the main stream publishing world. Publishers are expecting authors to have a platform online. More than compelling content, they are looking for people with online connections and influence.
Suddenly, people, like my client, need to know how to navigate an online world so they can provide thought leadership online; not just real world know-how. Entering this online world can be overwhelming, especially to people unfamiliar with the new ways of communicating and interacting.
The investment is worthwhile, because social media platforms allow people and companies to: create, grow, and extend and their influence in an online community; one that is separate from geography or proximity – unlimited and unconstrained.
To be a thought leader online you have to first share your thoughts online. You have to be willing to share your knowledge, expertise, and insights through social media channels — through blog posts, tweets, and other social media updates.
Some leaders in the real world may feel they’re too busy to engage with people online. While that may be true, I believe that they are missing the opportunity to extend their reach exponentially through making connections and adding value online.
If you want to make a difference, why not make a bigger difference?
If you have knowledge to share, why not share it with as many people as possible?
If you want to add value for some, why not add value for many?
To stay current and in touch, leaders need to step into cyberspace and find media channels to fit their messages and then using technology to spread their thoughts to as many people as possible. Leaders need to be engaged online and available to connect.
While it is true in 2012 that people can be thought leaders in the real world but not be involved as thought leaders online, I believe that in not-too-distant future, leaders who choose not to engage online will diminish their perceived influence, and perhaps, their ability to achieve their goals as leaders.
Such leaders will be faced with a choice: share online or face obsolescence.
And as some real life leaders neglect online avenues for influence, a new generation of leaders is emerging; these leaders grow their influence online by connecting with others, sharing generously, and crossing geographical barriers to find new avenues for learning and growth.
I choose to walk with and support leaders who choose to engage online.
I choose to be a thought leader who adds value online.
What will you choose?