Are your employees accidentally giving away trade secrets?
Do their website bios sound like they’re aligned with your company’s mission? Or like they’re ready and open to the next job that comes around.
What if you’re missing sales and opportunities because the company, as a whole, hasn’t figured out how to leverage social media by either throwing up its hands and letting employees have their way, or shutting down the use of social media altogether.
You spend a lot on enterprise software
But you spend little to nothing on employees’ online personas. And these days, everybody has an online persona, whether it’s purposeful or not. Today, every employee with an online profile (a la LinkedIn) publicly represents your company.
Instead of placing unreasonable or poorly-considered limits on employees, what if you established policies and then taught each one how to use their online personas to serve both them and the company?
If board directors and executives need help with how the heck to approach LinkedIn, then so do their employees.
Not convinced? Try this exercise
Look up one of your employees on LinkedIn. (Set yourself to “anonymous” if you’d rather they not know you’ve stopped by their profile.)
See if these words appear in your employee’s profile:
- Highly dynamic….
- Bottom-line results….
- Proven results….
These are just a few of the many examples of language that once sounded great (I used some of these now-offenders years ago), but has been overused to the point of becoming laughable. Google “overused business phrases” for the latest lists of chuckle-worthy phrases that can sound downright awesome to the uninitiated. (Or should I say not-yet-inundated.)
You will find these words littered on most résumés, and as such, they’ve migrated over to LinkedIn. Because they’ve lost their meaning, they actually reveal nothing (or far too much) about the person’s place or contributions to the company.
Another important question
Are your employees using LinkedIn as an online résumé to cite their quantifiable accomplishments? If so, they might be unwittingly giving away trade secrets.
Are they selling themselves independently? Or as contributors to the company? If it’s “all me, all the time,” it might be a clue that they’re unhappy and looking to move. Or it could be that they don’t understand the impact of this very wrong approach.
I wrote about this unfortunate phenomenon on LinkedIn (Your LinkedIn Profile Might Be Giving Away Trade Secrets), so I won’t repeat it here, but it’s a little-understood problem. Employee profiles are giving away both proprietary and competitive information about their companies.
(Just think about your sales team members saying they “blew sales out of the water last year.” Now think about how that looks to a vendor preparing to meet that sales team member at the negotiating table. Suddenly, that vendor has an edge over this “shark” sales person and arrives armed to the teeth. LinkedIn is not the place to brag about your negotiations skills!)
The problem is exacerbated by supposed “LinkedIn Gurus” who don’t look at LinkedIn as a 360-degree business tool, rather as an online advertisement for an employee’s next job.
It’s important to note that it’s nobody’s fault at this point, because few are beating this particular drum. Most people are still looking at LinkedIn as an online résumé, which diminishes the actual power of LinkedIn considerably.
What to do?
With everyone cross-referencing everyone else online, predominantly on LinkedIn, it might be time to circle the wagons and support your bottom line in a very real way.
Here are examples of how The Redick Group can help:
- LinkedIn for Boards of Directors: There’s a level of gravitas most board members want. Yet, because LinkedIn straddles the fine line between professional presence and social tool, they frequently just stay away. Trouble is, LinkedIn offers a great deal of exposure when it comes to connecting meaningfully with like-minded people from a board director’s past, present, and future. And by future, I mean the possibility of being passively found for another board role, particularly when it comes to diversity searches. A smart board director learns what s/he doesn’t know and leverages it appropriately.
- LinkedIn for C-suites & Senior Teams: Nothing is more confusing than perusing the LinkedIn profiles of a company’s senior leadership and finding inharmonious stories. A free-for-all approach is left to speculation, while the Apple, Inc. “say nothing” approach is a guarantee that LinkedIn certainly won’t be used as a business tool. For the sake of boards, investors, employees, partners, members of the press, and well beyond, an executive team’s profiles should align with the company’s values and each team member’s purpose and leadership area, not to mention the individual credibility they bring to the table that helps the business grow. Don’t let your team’s untended or disjointed LinkedIn profiles sabotage your company’s intentions. Build a strategy and write public profiles that unify your team’s reason for doing business together.
- LinkedIn for Companies & Organizations: Instead of worrying about how LinkedIn is enabling the easy poaching of your best talent, get over it and acknowledge the LinkedIn ecosystem as a tool for doing business. If your talent gets recruited away, odds are that they weren’t happy anyway—or the package you offered didn’t compete with the package they were offered elsewhere. LinkedIn is here to stay, so flip the paradigm and create policies and methodologies that your employees can follow to actually use LinkedIn for business.
- LinkedIn for Startups & Boutiques: Niching is key to communicating on LinkedIn. That is, attracting the right believers in your service or product, while getting comfortable with repelling those who won’t be a good fit, no matter how hard you try. If your favorite color is purple and you specialize in all hues and tones of purple, you have to stop trying to include green in your mix of offerings. Claim the corner on the purple market! On the other hand, if you offer a rainbow of colors, define the tones and hues that you prefer. Move from worried to empowered. For new small business owners, Jared can help set up the appearance of a niche, while technically remaining open to a broad range of potential customers.
Job Title Discovery
Do your company’s job titles align with the market? Are you calling a senior enterprise sales executive a “specialist?” Do people who meet your employees know who your employees are without a doubt by their job title alone? If you’re uncertain, you’re not alone. Jared once solved a three-year battle over job titles in a three minute conversation. That’s an outlier experience, but it gives a glimpse into the possibilities.
Create job titles that serve a strategic purpose with customers, partners, vendors, and beyond. As a former retained search recruiter and long-time executive résumé writer and career transition coach, Jared brings a wealth of experience to the seemingly simplistic power of job titles.
Blogging, Microblogging & LinkedIn Post Development
Like it or not, content is driving commerce. Hire Jared to research, shape, write, re-purpose, and position your messaging, whether internally- or externally-facing posts. Ask about monthly and annual packages.