Virtual Leadership: Part Three of How Leaders Respond Timely

Screen shot 2011 04 28 at 8 19 49 AMA big part of leadership is presence. My first employer had this power over me to make me stand an inch taller when he was around. I wanted him to see my best work. I wanted to be a part of every project he was implementing. His presence alone inspired me.

I’ve heard conversations about who should really be “on” social media sites. Should leaders take part? Yes! Whole-heartedly, yes! If ever there is a place where people need to be held accountable, stand taller, and maintain high standards, it is within online social media sites like Twitter and Facebook. Why? First of all, that is where people are spending their time. I just read a report that stated the average American spends as much time online in these social networks as they do watching television. Both numbers are high. Second, for some strange reason, some people mistakingly believe that they can lower their guard while online. Nothing could be farther from the truth. In reality, more first impressions are being made by a couple of search engine results before you ever get a chance to email, call, or write. Yes, leaders should be online and they need to know what to do. It doesn’t involve much time, there are shortcuts, and leaders simply cannot allow their online representation to be left up to chance or other people’s posts.

Twitter: An awesome resource for connecting with, networking, and learning from some of the best leaders in the world. You can ask them questions and they respond! No kidding! I recommend this as the number one social network to be on, and it is incredibly easy to learn and use. Did I mention it is quite enjoyable too? Hope we connect on Twitter. I use HootSuite to schedule future posts and sometimes connect those with Facebook using the hashtag #FB. I also use Instapaper to read tweets in greater detail later on my iPad.

Facebook: A great place to invite people to interact with you and the projects you wish to see completed. Another great place to ask for help and spread the word of upcoming events, and share information. This makes a great starter website. I have a personal page for my family and a business page for my speaking. Set a time once each day to go through your Facebook messages and posts. I make a playlist of about three songs. When it’s don, so am I. Next project.

Website: Having a web presence is important for any organization and leader. It could be as simple as a Facebook page. I recommend everyone at least purchasing their domain name if possible. From there you can build a simplistic website and add to it throughout your life. I have even purchased the domain names of my wife and my children. Don’t spend a lot of time tweaking it and getting everything perfect. What a time waster! Get something simple started. You can also make a great website from free WordPress.

LinkedIn: Not sure what is going on with LinkedIn. It recently has gone through a revamping. I don’t spend much time here. I add connections when asked but this site still seems awkward to use. I’m in, but waiting. It does have a decent foot in the door, but is lacking ease of use and easier connectivity. Waiting.

Google Search and Alert: You should add a google alert to your name. When someone mentions you on the internet, Google will send you an email.

Blogging: What a great way to practice and improve as a leader! Pick a couple of leaders you admire and follow there blog. Start your own blog to share your thoughts on leadership and inspire others. Leave some comments on other blogs and reply back to some comments on your own. Don’t live there. Posts should be aroudnd 500 words. Those blog posts add up and could become a book by the end of the year. Tag each post so that people can find you and connect with you. I use WordPress.

YouTube: Go ahead and use the camera on your laptop and record a short video once a month for those you lead. This makes great practice for you and resource for others. You will improve the quality with each recording. The videos should not be perfect. Don’t even try.

Emerging Social Sites: A word of caution, because there are so many emerging technologies that you can really lose a lot of time and productivity. If one seems interesting or has the recommendation of someone I admire, I sign-up for free and reserve my user name. I keep a distant eye on it and keep my focus on Twitter and Facebook.

Won’t this take a lot of time? No. Don’t live there. Set a time of day and a timer to reply and comment to those who had the courtesy to leave you a message. Just a touch and go of thanks and I see you. You can personalize this down the road. I thank people for commenting and ask engaging questions. I enjoy it and it doesn’t take much time. Don’t lie there.

My recommendation: Control your identity: Grab your domain name, and experiment with social media. If you are already there or find yourself investing too much time in it back off. Social Media can be a great place to work on leadership skills, but unmonitored it can really infringe on time spent on more important projects or with family. Track your time. I use the timer on my iPhone and walk away when it goes off. I know exactly what I want to do next. Think BIG projects. Social media is not a project. Learn the shortcuts around these social media sites and how they can interact with each other. For instance, you can tag a tweet on Twitter with #FB and it will appear on your Facebook page is you have that set up. The three pieces I feel everyone needs immediately are: Twitter Account, Facebook Page, and a blog. You get all of those for free.

In summary, virtual leadership is indeed important, but we cannot allow it to infringe with our leadership roles with our family, employment, and dreams. Use social media and online communities to enhance your real world experiences, not replace them.

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Kelly Croy is a chalk artist and professional speaker.

He has entertained and amazed audiences across the nation including corporations, schools, churches, conferences, and anywhere people come together to be entertained and inspired.

Please consider booking Kelly for your next event.