23 December 2014 By Northern Lights
Last week Sony cancelled the release of Hollywood film, The Interview because of computer hacking threats. The company has been slated for this decision – even by President Obama – not just for being weak but because Sony’s board is seen as not being IT savvy and not having managed their IT security. They left it to the techies.
And this will become more of a problem for boards in all areas of business – we see it in the lack of social media skills at board level.
It’s not that management should suddenly bring techies onto the board, but that management itself has to be technology aware – and manage the risks and opportunities of technology. The risks are big, as Sony is acutely aware, but the opportunities are even bigger. And few companies or partnerships are exploiting these.
Research this year showed that 80% of a buying decision is made before someone makes personal contact with a business – in both consumer and B2B markets.
And how is that decision being made? Mostly by Google searches.
It’s no surprise that this year Lord Sugar chose as his winning Apprentice a business that gets people to the top of Google. As he said, the potential and growth in this market is enormous. Businesses are only just starting to understand the value.
Google is changing its algorithms so if you want to get to the top of Google you will increasingly need
We talked above about boards needing to understand social media to exploit it – strategic blogging is one of the biggest areas they need to understand for opportunities.
These days, leaders recognise they need to be more than just good at their job to be successful, whether that’s winning business, motivating employees or being an industry expert.
They need a clear identity around their skills – we call it becoming the ‘go to’ person for specific expertise. And then they need to use that expertise for impact in meetings, presentations, the media and online.
The best way to share expertise and ‘thought leadership’ is to create a blog, ask questions, share views from conferences, add your own thoughts, discuss issues that clients are raising, write a white paper.
Being a thought leader is not arrogant. If you spend most of your working life thinking about and gaining expertise on specific topics, you become ‘expert’ in that area. A thought leader shares this expertise and creates debate and develops the thinking. A good thought leader is extremely professional and helpful – it’s not about vanity and ego publishing.
Leaders of the future will need to demonstrate their thought leadership.
We’ve talked above about the importance of strategic blogs for leaders and businesses. Professional blogging is quite a skill. And companies and agencies need more corporate bloggers.
This is a huge opportunity for journalists looking to find new avenues for their writing skills. But business blogging is complex – you need to understand Google and how to write online content; how to give a blog a clear identity and theme so people will subscribe; you need to understand and think like your customers so you write for them; and then share the blog to get people to read it.
Oh – and ensure that it will engage and generate new business for the company. That is its key purpose.
We are looking for great corporate bloggers – if you have a good track record, we’d love to hear from you.
I have now done dozens of speaking events and bespoke workshops and director coaching on LinkedIn. Typically only 10% of sales people and directors understand how LinkedIn can be used to win business and even fewer are actually putting that into practice.
This is the quickest, easiest, cheapest (ie free) sales tool your business will ever have. If you have yet to find the magic of Advanced Search, then give us a call.
Earlier this month I gave a talk to the British Business Group in Abu Dhabi and Ian McDougall, a lawyer with Al Sherooq H&P lawyers, kindly emailed after to say “I have to say that while I was resident and working in the UK, LinkedIn was never viewed by me as a particularly useful tool for business development. Your talk and insight and its relevance to Abu Dhabi commercial activity has made me rethink this!”
Do you also need to rethink LinkedIn?
I chuck this final one in as food for thought. I have been to two board meetings recently where we have been looking at the potential of 3D printers. Now that really good 3D printers are less than $1000 each, they are going to change the face of many industries. How will they change your own business?
So those are some of the biggest opportunities we see for corporates and professional firms. Are there bigger ones to mention? Do you think we are over-playing the importance of these? Or not been strong enough! We’d love your views.