Who Should Teach Reputation?
One good lesson we can all take from social media is that we know a ton about public reputation. We know about corporate reputation, brand reputation and individual reputation. I happen to think that personal reputation and social media lie at the heart of social business. Universities are accustomed to teaching us specific skills in different disciplines and showing us how to wrap that into a career application, but it’s time to start teaching what it means to cultivate and grow public reputation. Who will teach us? Here are three reasons why we need to learn.
1. That new workforce is one giant talent pool and it’s global
I’ve been talking recently with talent pool companies that are tying together teams from around the world – paying top dollar to experts in geographies where the income levels are minimal.
Drawing highly educated and skilled talent into global teams for rapid assignments is only one small corner of a changing, fragmented talent pool that is replacing employment. Certainly, the time when American and European talent can be replicated from anywhere is already upon us.
Think of your skills today as a temporary advantage as educated competitors from Turkey to Madagascar to Nigeria fold into the global entrepreneurial ecosystem. For example, right now I’m looking for support in India, Africa and China as I look to grow my audiences there. I don’t need support in established markets.
In these situations your resume is no defence. You, we, really need to understand what the last couple of years in social media equip you, us, to do. It’s not just that you now know Facebook marketing, it’s the fact that you have proved to yourself that you are highly adaptable. It’s not just that you know amplification techniques, it’s the fact that you can work on your own or in a team at the drop of a hat.
But do you know how to be discovered? What we need now is an education that takes us through the steps of growing reputation and skills that uniquely fit us for roles that are opening up in the global workforce. And I think social media practitioners and experts have a lead here.
2. Expert networking is not working
The second area where we need more education (and it doesn’t have to be sit-down in class style) is expert networking. We don’t understand our expertise well enough, nor how to convey it, nor how to find it. Do you know how important LinkedIn is to your career or opportunities?
Social media and social business depend on us taking responsibility for building a narrative around our expertise, stories we tell that identify what we do exceptionally well. Expertise is a fluctuating asset – skills that are relevant today might not be so tomorrow - so we have to keep telling the stories, with variations. We have to get close to sounding off about ourselves while still retaining some discretion.
Expert networking is not working because experts don’t tell stories about themselves. It’s one of the friction points in social business implementations. We need to hear more about each other and to see expression as a professional responsibility – oh and by the way, one of the best-selling authors of 2011 was an insurance salesman, John Locke. He mastered Amazon before any established writer did and it paid off. So expertise is malleable and the stories need telling and retelling to reflect our changing interests.
3. We need to know how to grow ourselves not a score
We need to be assessing our own reputations and their credibility in changing market conditions, what it is based on, what skills we have, how our personalities function in groups and teams, and in remote relationships. We need to know how to overcome deficits. Don’t wait for a Klout score to do this for you. Don’t even bother with a Klout score. We need to think in terms of human capability, starting with our own.
I recently realised why I write for a living. As a thirteen year old in a school in the north of England a teacher told me: “you can’t write.” I made up my mind to do it there and then. We typically are good at things we may have been told we can’t do. This economy and the social environment that’s growing around us, requires people who can overcome obstacles. Those are the people that can grow.
You also need to learn how to grow a hacker’s reputation. Be the person who gets things done. Who is going to teach you that? Right now there is only one source of wisdom: You. I wonder though whether vehicles like Social Media Today can formalise these learnings in ways that take us beyond Googling the latest ten-ways-to-be-great article? I’d really appreciate hearing from you on that. Is there a personal development need going unfulfilled?
I've been writing about business and digital culture for about ten years, wrote the Convergence Culture column in the Irish Times, was formerly editor of innovation management and a partner at The Conversation Group. I currently help a select few companies to develop their thought leadership strategies. You can contact me by using my full name before @gmail.com.
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