20 July 2012 - 11:30am | by Wiley

All aboard the social train

Jay Oatway's new title Mastering Story, Community and InfluenceJay Oatway's new title Mastering Story, Community and Influence

In the first of a series of new book reviews and previews, The Drum brings you an extract from Jay Oatway’s new title Mastering Story, Community and Influence, in which the author explains how to use social media to become a socialeader.

Begin with the end in mind. A massive organizational shift is coming – to the way we work and the way we live. It’s everywhere. There is no escaping it. Everyone is a media company now. And, as the effects of online influence remap the world, you will want to ensure a seat at the table for yourself and for your family. Your best chance is to become a Socialeader and rise with the tide.

The divide between the social ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’ will be very real. Those who fail to chase this opportunity today are placing their future in jeopardy. We have seen the beginnings of a reputation economy take hold, with velvet ropes going up around goods and services reserved for only those with enough online influence.

That online influence doesn’t just happen. It can’t truly be bought – no matter how many digital agencies say they can sell it to you. Socialeaders must find their own stories. You must be clear in your heart what you stand for. And you must step confidently onto the public stage and start meeting people.

To be a social ‘have’, seek out the connections you need to get to where you want to go. Foster those connections through the exchange of social currency, letting your curation tell your story, rather than coming on too strong with a sales pitch. People want to be wooed. But remember, loyalty can’t be bought. It is earned through actions.

Actions speak louder than words, which means that we need to put others before ourselves. Don’t let your quest for influence become an ego project. Instead, look out for those around you. Build a reputation as someone who takes care of his or her community. It’s how you help others that is going to make the real distinction in your reputation.

Be accountable to your audiences, for it is they who give you your authority. They are the ones who will back you in a fight. Don’t just ‘build’ community, become a part of one. Be bold and take a leadership role if you can. Get involved with the work of other people; let that community participate in your work. This is the beginning of an era of collaboration, and those of us who have come from a previous era need to make a conscious decision to open up in a way that is much more natural to the digital natives.

But the digital natives also need role models. We need to set the example for the professional way to conduct ourselves through social media – it’s no different from the phone, which can also be misused at work or used to close a big deal. At the time of writing this book, only 19 per cent of Fortune 100 CEOs were on Facebook and only 13 were on LinkedIn. Today’s leaders must do more to demonstrate to the next generation of leaders how it is done.

You need to look to building and leveraging long-term partnerships, instead of burning bridges with spammy promotions. We are at the beginnings of cultivating an online army that will be with us for the rest of our lives.

The rest of our lives. Say that out loud and let it sink in. We have decades of social media to come in our lives. Start connecting the dots between where you are today and where you want to be in just a few years. You are not going to get there solely offline, at least not for much longer.

Don’t leave your future to chance. Don’t be the boat without the rudder. Be proactive in building your influence: manage your Dunbar Portfolio; connect to the right people, not the most people; claim a larger mind share of the master narrative. Be confident in yourself – you can be a significant online player. This isn’t the mass media era where the limelight was reserved for the anointed few. Today, all the online influence you want is there for the taking. Go get it.

Online influence, once you’ve had a taste of it, will be hard to let go of. But don’t let it change you. Keep it real. Sure, go ahead and enjoy some of the spoils of online influence, but remember that any social credit you accept will force you to find a way to balance the social capital.

Don’t let your reputation be tarnished by the acts of others. Guard it jealously, for it is your future – and everything that happens online stays online. Search engines don’t forget. Begin today with that in mind.

The Socialeader train is now leaving the station. If you run, you can still catch it.

Taken from Mastering Story, Community and Influence by Jay Oatway (Wiley, £16.99). Out now in print and ebook format, from all good bookshops.

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