I’m just about to launch a pilot program for SAP EMEA employees called “Have A Social Summer”. I’m running a series workshops over the summer months on the value of social networking – both for business for also for personal interest. I’m also interviewing employees (Social SAPers) in a series of podcasts so peers across the whole organisation can share their experiences. This is of course all being hosted on our internal social platform from Jive Software. The objective of the program is to dispel myths, cover our policies as well as introducing them to the key networks and social etiquette.

Companies like SAP are proud to have ‘experts’ working for them – it’s a way to share knowledge and be proud of employees and their diverse backgrounds and interests. Tomorrow is the first session so I thought I’d give you a sneak peek on the agenda:

What Is Social Networking? It’s a way of listening, sharing and engaging with people…some of whom you may never meet! It’s not about pushing messages to audiences. It’s about engaging them in conversation, interacting and collaborating. It’s about operating within a community of people who share common interests.

How Is It Changing Business? It’s changing business in a couple of ways. Prospects are coming into the lead cycle more well informed than ever before. According to a MarketBridge webinar, prospects are 30% more likely to go to a user-generated website than they are to a vendor or analyst site. They’re turning to their trusted networks for advice and recommendations and if they have a complaint, they no longer just tell their Account Manager – they tell the world! Social media are transparent, viral and will stay online forever!

So How Does This Impact You And Your Brand? We’re fast becoming a networked society. A CV is no longer enough. Your social brand is your new professional image and it’s a way to showcase your expertise. In order to stand out from the crowd you must invest in your social image, build your networks and become a premium brand. In a tough economy premium brands hold their value.

So Where Do I Start? Before diving in head first and setting up every social media account you can think of, make sure you do the ground work. Follow these tips:

  • Define Brand You: You don’t need to meditate on a mountain for a week to decide what makes you different. Just spend 30 minutes figuring out what makes you stand out. Think about your experience, your interests, your passions, your niche. Remember, this might not be directly related to your job! I live in Norway and write a blog about the experience but I don’t work for VisitNorway.com. Not yet anyway!
  • Google Yourself: I know it sounds vain but it’s a good initial measure of your social impact. Google will pull from all kinds of social sources including LinkedIn. Tap in your name and see where you rank.
  • Name Check Yourself: Check to see if your brand name is available. Most folks will use their name as their “personal brand” which makes sense. Use a tool like http://namechk.com/ to find out if your name is available as a URL or vanity URL on the most popular social media tools.
  • Claim Your Brand Name: Once you’ve figured out a brand name that is available, make sure you secure it starting with the .com address. Whether you do anything with this web address or not is irrelevant at this point…just make sure you have it. WHOIS is a great place to start.
  • Discover Your Network: There’s a handy little tool called InMaps for LinkedIn. It will map your networks in a nice colourful picture to show how you’re connected with people and where your networks are strongest. It’s fun to do but also gives you a good idea on where you need to focus on building.
  • Start Listening: Don’t launch any social accounts until you’ve started listening. Once you’ve defined your brand in Step 1, start listening. Social Listening is a much bigger topic but Google Alerts is a good place to start. Start receiving updates on the topic you want to build a profile around. Who else is talking about the topic? What’s their angle? How can you be different?

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