The importance of being eminent
Almost on a weekly basis at IBM, I am being asked to speak about social eminence to groups of IBMers and clients.
They all want to know how to become personally eminent, and how to maintain this position once you are.
I estimate that since I joined IBM, I have presented to over 5,000 IBMers on this topic, sometimes in large groups of between 300-700 people at a time.
I am very flattered that I am asked to present on this important topic, and I see the role of education in this space invaluable, and also one of IBM’s competitive advantages.
So how do you become socially eminent?
The quick answer is that it doesn’t happen overnight. My own journey started some 31 years ago, when I started using bulletin boards (BBS) in 1983 in my hometown of Adelaide, Australia.
I knew that I was hooked on this “online” thing back then when my Father had to install a second phone line at home because I was always using our single phone line to dial-up (using my 300bps analog modem) to the Angle Park Computing Centre’s bank of 5 modems to connect to their “Nexus” BBS.
Years later, in 2006 when I arrived in London, I had a very small professional network. I had to do something to stand out from the crowd, so I started this blog.
Initially the blog was focussed on mobile technologies (hence the name London Calling), and as my career and interests changed more towards social media and social business, the focus and the content on the blog reflected that.
This blog has been a major part of my journey to becoming more “socially eminent”, and as a result I am asked to speak at conferences and to C-Suite executives on a regular basis.
The exposure from blogging and speaking has certainly raised my profile, however this has taken 8 long years – so you can’t expect this to happen overnight.
What I do advise IBMers and clients is that you need to start now, and you also have to have something unique and interesting to say.
How do you define and measure influence?
Robert Cialdini in his 1984 book: Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion spoke about the 6 key principles of influence:
1. Reciprocity – People tend to return a favour, thus the pervasiveness of free samples in marketing
2. Commitment and Consistency – If people commit, orally or in writing, to an idea or goal, they are more likely to honor that commitment because of establishing that idea or goal as being congruent with their self-image.
3. Social Proof – People will do things that they see other people are doing. For example, in one experiment, one or more confederates would look up into the sky; bystanders would then look up into the sky to see what they were seeing.
4. Authority – People will tend to obey authority figures, even if they are asked to perform objectionable acts.
5. Liking – People are easily persuaded by other people that they like. Cialdini cites the marketing of Tupperware in what might now be called viral marketing.
6. Scarcity – Perceived scarcity will generate demand. For example, saying offers are available for a “limited time only” encourages sales.
These 6 principles can also be used to help with building and maintaining your social eminence.
Especially relevant are Reciprocity, Commitment and Consistency, Social Proof and Scarcity when building your personal eminence.
But I don’t have time to do this – I have a day job!
My simple answer to this is that your competition, be it another company or another candidate for the job or promotion you want does. If you don’t work on building your own eminence, you will be beaten in the market by someone who does.
The concept of your own personal “brand”
My own personal brand is the reason I am at IBM. My “one tweet” story which explains why can be found here – and I use this one tweet on screen as the opening for my social eminence talk. You can also watch a video of me explaining this at the beginning of my London Business School TEDx talk – embedded below.
Each person reading this post has a personal brand, and you may not even realise it. Each one of you are known for something, and has a unique perspective on something. Leveraging this thing about you that is unique will help you with your personal brand.
There is a fine line however between professionally maintaining your personal brand, and overt bragging.
Having run Kred for 2 years before I joined IBM, I have first-hand experience at dealing with self-proclaimed “key influencers”. My antennae is finely tuned to suspect those that have tell me that they’re influential – aren’t really influential or eminent.
And here’s the “key influencer” dirty little secret. They are really only influential because they work hard at maintaining their Klout score, and running multiple twitter accounts to pump up their follower scores – it makes them noisy not eminent in my view.
They need to because their perceived social eminence is how they get business, and have people select them to provide advice – and this is in some ways just simple marketing of a product – themselves.
Real influence and real eminence comes from other people saying “this person really knows what they’re talking about”, and enough people saying this that you become known as an expert in your field.
In the business world, your eminence doesn’t come from the number of followers you have or your position on the “Forbes influencer list” (don’t get me started on this topic..), it comes from the view of your customer, or prospective customer about your value to them.
Social Eminence in practice
By now some of you will be asking “so how does this work in practice”?
Well let me explain.
When your name is mentioned or put forward to work on a project, the first thing your prospective client will do is type your name into Google. If you don’t believe me – ask them.
You probably do the same when you are considering a particular individual or company – you do your research.
Try this now – type your name into Google (for best effect use the “incognito” or “private browsing”option so you see what your clients see). What comes up?
Here is what comes up when I type my name into Google (click for a larger view).
Seven first 8 results are mine. I can never seem to shake Andrew’s Bar and Grill at number 8 though..
Even the 5 images shown are me – how did I do this?
There is no special trick – I just started early, stayed consistent and created great content that others have found useful and shared with others. Also by being on Twitter and LinkedIn, they are making my name and profile visible to Google.
I also registered my own personal domain andrewgrill.com back in 1999. My name is my brand so I use it all the time, and as a result Google has indexed my website over the last 15+ years.
Here’s a simple tip – if you are using Gmail or Yahoo for your email, consider purchasing your own domain name.
I use a company called Gandi for all my domain names, and they provide a free email service that would use your domain name.
Consider how much more “on brand” firstname.lastname@example.org is than email@example.com
By having your name as a domain name, it will help Google find you among the billions of other names, and associate your great content and thought leadership to your name.
Five tips for improving your eminence
Below are 5 quick tips I give to fellow IBMers to help improve their social eminence
- Make sure your LinkedIn profile is up to date – add photos and videos to all of your roles
Set up a Twitter profile and start following other people in your own company, customers, and competitors
Set up an about.me page – it is free and gives you a 1 page “social business card”
Share regular updates on what you’re working on via your internal social media platform – such as IBM Connections, Yammer, Chatter or Jive.
Follow @AndrewGrill for tips and insights!
I can’t help you with the content you need to develop and promote – this is up to you. If you do follow my tips above then you will be well on the way to social eminence stardom!