I often get asked to help people make sense of LinkedIn so that they can make the most of it. It’s often a subtle approach, simply because there are so many people, attitudes, industry types and so on.

Some people are gregarious, some are shy.

Interestingly, it’s senior management and leadership who seem to struggle the most. If that’s you, read on...

Firstly, don’t worry. You are not alone.

Secondly, don’t assume this article is evangelising LinkedIn or Social Media in general – it’s not.

If though, you’re starting to wonder whether you may be losing more than you protect by staying out of this space, then it’s worth clearing some of those question marks away.

Ask yourself:

• Are people looking for me on LinkedIn?
• If so, what are they finding? What conclusion does that make them draw?
• Is LinkedIn a fad, or is now standard professional reference material?
• Are my team using LinkedIn? What are they doing?
• What do my stakeholders expect? What do journalists expect?

There are more but that will give you a feel for where LinkedIn sits and how it might affect you.
This next bit might sting a little, so apologies in advance, but stay with me – nobody knows you’re reading this, so it’s just between us!

It’s important to understand that one of the reasons for slow uptake of Social Media amongst leadership (apologies again for the generalisation but the data do support this) is the generational split in the demographics. If you’re Senior Management or Leadership, chances are that you’re 45 plus. Typically, it will be younger, less senior people doing the networking.

Here’s the rub:

Seniority and social hierarchy often dictates how leaders interact.
Are you allowing your position as a leader to prevent you from understanding what’s happening in this medium because you perceive it to be “Low value” or “Low status”?

Whatever the answer, make it an informed one and remember there are a few leaders who maybe wished they had answered themselves more honestly about the importance of social media to them – Muammar Gaddaffi, Bashar al-Assad and Hosni Mubarak to name a few.

By Phil Blything – Director of Liverpool Digital Marketing Agency, Glow New Media.

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