Total Pageviews

Friday, 9 September 2011

3 Ways to Build a Stronger Public Profile.

If you want to be known well, you want to know these ground rules

In this super-connected era, when everything’s a few clicks away from a search engine, and information lives forever, you can’t afford to ignore your online presence. 

The good thing here is that it’s all in your hands. Consultants will offer to help you out, for fat fees. But really, all you need is a bit of common sense. (Hopefully, you’re not one of those people who give their assistants their email passwords because they can’t be bothered with learning how to use the Internet; if you are, you’re dead in the water already.) This is too important to delegate. You wouldn’t leave your advertising decisions to your secretary, so why would you let someone way down in the hierarchy control how you or your company is perceived online? 

Image: Malay Karmakar
Take the time to learn about how search engines, Web sites, communities, blogs, and social networks work. Most search engine optimisation companies and relentlessly self-promoting social media ‘experts’ peddle snake oil. Look at what your peers are doing now — don’t set your benchmark by what’s happening in India, look at the world — and evolve a set of best practices that you can live with. 

Fan pages on Facebook tend to be set up by small shops and individuals; a few big brands have put out such ham-handed efforts that it’s obvious some clueless flack is running things. So far, barring a few CEOs from companies carving out their destinies with Web- or tech-related products, very few top Indian executives have sullied their hands with Twitter. Anand Mahindra, who tweets as @anandmahindra, is a notable exception. 

First Lesson: Search for terms you’d like to be identified with. Follow the links your search engine throws up. Chances are, at least a few of them will be good blogs or forums focussed on those topics. Listen. See what they say. Follow links to articles and pages they recommend. When you feel ready, join in on the conversation yourself.

Second Lesson: Listen. Monitor online social forums and services as carefully as you scan the business press for mentions of your company. Consider appointing a Conversation Officer (see 7 Words We Learnt This Year, page 133).

Bonus Tip: When it comes to managing your company’s profile, step out of the executive floor. Most people at the top just don’t grok the online world, and probably rely on consultants and so-called experts to tell them what to do. Instead, talk to the young people in your company who grew up using the Web. Ask them how to do it. And then help them make it work.

2 Giving Back 2.0
Simply donating a few crores to charity isn’t going to get you noticed or talked about anymore. That’s now passé. Of course, giving is still important. It’s just that giving back to society has moved to the next level. Take a look at the number of people who are flocking to enlist as volunteers for Nandan Nilekani’s Unique Identity Programme. Or the sheer interest he generates every time he addresses a conference.

So what’s Nilekani’s secret sauce? He’s tapped into a very basic urge. His cross-over is seen as hugely inspirational. And it isn’t just successful people at the end of their corporate career who’ve begun to eye plum jobs in the government. It’s a theme that seems to resonate well even among middle-level managers. Everyone suddenly wants to make a difference. The fact that the Manmohan Singh government has gone on record that they’d like more folks from civil society to join the government has also spurred new hope.

So what should you be doing? For one, let’s recognise that it isn’t a simple transition. It took Nilekani years of effort to build a network at the highest levels of the government. He’s built up enormous credibility during his stint at Infosys. And he’s been articulating his larger vision for the country at various forums, including through his book. So it didn’t happen overnight.

Besides, there’s one other factor to consider: There aren’t enough government positions on offer in the first place. And given the number of high-profile people vying for a limited number of slots, there’s a high probability of being left out in the cold. Instead, look at the next best thing: Focus on an area where you think you can make a difference. 

Here, Azim Premji and Sunil Mittal are both good role models. They haven’t merely chosen primary education as their focus area. They’ve been actively involved in sharing their wisdom, resources and network for the cause. They’ve also done one more thing: Helped build a strong professional organisation to lead the foray. As both men have realised, lasting change doesn’t come easy. It requires huge doses of persistence and creativity to bring systemic changes in this country. 

Image: Malay Karmakar
3 Medium is the Message
There are several ways to communicate your ideas to a wider audience. But pause for a minute to reflect on the platforms that are likely to generate more buzz. Ten years ago, authoring a seminal article in Harvard Business Review with a renowned business school professor would have earned you enough prestige. It still might — but today, you can generate more buzz through 18 minutes of fame. You’ve guessed it: TED talks arrived in India a few months ago. And they seem to have caught the public imagination.

The line-up of speakers is exclusive, and attendance to the conference is tightly controlled. The trick, again, is about specialisation. Decide on a theme early on. Study it thoroughly. Develop a robust understanding. The most interesting themes lie at the intersection of two or three disciplines. It even makes sense to partner with an expert from a completely different genre. But in the end, very few TED talks have impact. So getting it right the first time requires enormous practice — and command over the subject. 

Beyond TED, there are other new channels too. Last week, Forbes India pioneered a new way to do interviews in the country: Twitter interviews. Bajaj Auto managing director, Rajiv Bajaj, the subject of our last cover story, answered questions on Twitter, the fast-growing social media platform. Now, consider the reach: Every month, 1.4 million users use Twitter from India alone. And compressing each tweet into just 140 characters can be difficult — but fun too, as Bajaj told us after his ‘twinterview.’
Source:  Peter Griffin @ Forbes India

No comments:

Post a Comment