Note — LinkedIn Pulse picked up this piece, and it’s getting some good interaction there — check it out and if you haven’t already, connect with me on LinkedIn while you’re there.
I’ve been studying the concept of the “social employee” recently, both through a Lynda.com course and a book by the same name.
Instead of a small marketing team powering the company’s image, social employees reinforce the culture and strategy through their own social influence and thought leadership.
I’m a fan of this idea. In an idea-driven economy, companies must collaborate with their customers and clients to grow. And employees often have to look past their company for resources as expertise becomes more specialized.
I recently noticed where my personal social employee efforts have taken me — to the top-viewed LinkedIn profile at my company, the largest public health system in Northeast Ohio.
Not bad for a chart monkey.
This surprises a lot of people. You might think the top spot would go to a senior executive or renowned physician. Maybe a social-savvy marketer would be there.
Instead, the top spot goes to a business analyst, eyeball-deep in spreadsheets with very little external-facing duties.
But becoming a social employee has been my best career move. Here’s why.
I’ve stepped out of a vacuum
“That’s the way we’ve always done it here” can be fatal thinking. But sometimes, things like that are done for good reason. How to decide the truth? Get online.
The majority of my day is spent in Microsoft Excel preparing reports, cleaning data, etc. I know some of the things I do could be done better. So I asked around the office, and got some help.
But why limit yourself to the opinion of six coworkers when the whole world’s opinion is a click away? I started my own Excel blog, networking with Excel leaders. I didn’t define my network as “who I know” in my own company or location. Instead, I pinpointed what holds me back at work — poor Excel processes. Then I searched for the leaders and collaborated with them. I got their opinions and implemented them in my own work.
As a social employee, I no longer look at how my office or I do things in a vacuum. Instead, I am constantly checking in with thought leaders worldwide to do better at my own office.
I’ve defined my why
An active social media presence forces you to define your objective. As a business analyst, my single biggest frustration is poor data integrity and management. I want to spend more time analyzing my data and less time preparing it.
I don’t pretend to be a data scientist. If anything, I’m resonating more with Martin Lindstrom’s concept of “Small Data.” The idea that observing human behavior and culture must take a place in business analysis appeals to me as a liberal arts grad.
Regardless, I’m not going to be learning how a hospital floor operates if I’m spending 90% of my time on data entry.
So here’s my why. I want to take a liberal arts approach to business analytics. But first I must control my data, so it doesn’t strangle me. I believe that many liberal arts grads could do so much more at work if they weren’t strangled in Sisyphean data projects.
Without blogging and becoming a social employee, I would not have defined this “why.” It’s taken me loads of writing and conversations to get to what I want from work, and what I need to overcome to get there.
I’m not a drone
Social media only works when you’re conversational and authentic. No PR-ese. No laugh-less meetings. People want to talk to another human — and a fun, friendly one.
It’s a relief that as a social employee, I can learn and laugh at once. I’ve found a way to become a better analyst while combining other interests — writing and music, for example.
I can develop my influence — and with that, my hospital’s influence — while helping people and making things.
Chart monkeys are social, too
The best thing I’ve done for myself as an analyst is to become a social employee. This concept cannot just be for marketers and executives. Finance, accounting, and IT professionals can benefit, too.
What do you think? Do you like the idea of the social employee? Do you consider yourself one? How does it or could it benefit you?