The new generation of MBAs have to be professional bloggers, influencers, and early adopters.
By Ricardo Garcia-Amaya
Throughout my full-time MBA program, I had the opportunity to meet and work with very smart people who had various types of industry experience. It was a great period in my life, during which I was introduced to an incredible number of problem-solving approaches applicable to a wide variety of industries and many types of enterprises. I am definitely one who strongly recommends the MBA path to many of my friends and family. However, business school is a two year period during which you find yourself confined in a bubble. In the last few years, the standards of what constitutes a well-established personal brand dramatically evolved and caught off guard many recent MBA graduates, as well as the educational institutions that have always been at the forefront in promoting its importance. I am referring specifically to an individual’s online personal brand.
Three years ago, a person with an MBA was fulfilling his or her online personal brand effort simply by establishing an online presence. Listing a profile on LinkedIn constituted establishing an online presence. Today, the new generation of MBAs have to be professional bloggers, influencers, and early adopters.
We are entering into an era of executive recruiting, in which the CV no longer carries the weight it used to. Your personal online voice will replace your CV. You are who your blogs, industry, peers, and followers say you are. And that is why this is a wake-up call to my MBA generation.
Blogging: In Search of Your Online Voice
Over the past five years, global brands have been struggling to find their online voices through endless experiments with ads, content, and sponsorship campaigns. Some have found them, and some continue to search. Now it’s our turn, as MBAs, to look for ours. Fortunately, our brand is much simpler to manage. All we need to do is write about what we are passionate about and feel proud of, and share it with our networks. However, finding our online voice takes a lot of practice and hard work.
Most technology leaders write at least one monthly blog. Only a select few are natural writers. Most leaders who blog (notice I am not speaking about individuals whose jobs are to blog) have confided to me that it takes them half a Sunday, or anywhere between 4 and 6 hours, to feel comfortable posting their content.
The great advantage of blogging, for an MBA, is that you will reach a point where your online voice will speak for you, and it will eventually coneect you with a new career direction or challenge you will want to embark on. Increasingly, hiring at the executive level in the technology world is based on the online voice—through blog posts, micro-blogging (Twitter), and online peer trust—rather than through CVs. This trend will continue to infiltrate every industry, and the best thing to do is prepare for it.
Although 40% of talent acquisition programs do not currently use social media websites to source and acquire talent, 57% use LinkedIn, 30% use Facebook and 20% use Twitter (January 2011 – Talent Management Magazine and HCM Advisory Group). This usage will continue to increase dramatically over the next two years.
Influencers Beyond the Executive Board Room
Today our business schools pride themselves in training us to influence decisions in a room full of executives. This is no longer enough. Today’s MBA graduate needs to develop the skills to influence an industry around the world. The best part about this is that we don’t need to spend another $150K on this tool kit! J To shake an industry after your MBA all you need is a blog and a Twitter account. Every MBA of this generation needs not only to create content and share it, but to promote it to the desired audience through tools like Twitter. Natural selection will find the best audience for your content, and as more industry-significant followers trust your content, your level of influence in the industry will begin to grow and eventually you will be able to make waves.
Note to Recent Graduates
Technology companies like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google are more than just valuations, public barometers, or names about which to speculate on public offerings; they are companies churning incredible and powerful tools that are not properly being taken advantage by recent graduates developing their online personal brand. We need to change that.
MBAs Need to Be Early Adopters
Arbitrage is not just a term confined to finance. Testing and adopting a technology that allows a financial firm to execute a trade milliseconds faster than everyone else creates a dramatic advantage for that firm. Testing and adopting new technology that can have an impact on your personal brand or your career in a specific industry can introduce you to a wealth of opportunities. For example, testing a new industry specific app or industry specific social platform can introduce you to the top players or soon-to-be most influential members of your industry. It’s the equivalent of arriving early to an event and having a chance to develop a relationship with the organizer, the honorees, and the keynote speaker. The early adopters of Twitter as a platform reaped the benefits of developing close relationships with each other. Today most of them are heavy influencers in the industry.
Five Simple “First Steps”
I have five recommendations for my fellow MBAs who want to make some basic improvements to their online personal brand and begin finding their online voice.
1. Since we all have our profiles in LinkedIN, let’s start by uploading a photo to the profile. I know what you are thinking. Really? Yes. I did a little data gathering and found out that
38.5% of my class members are missing a photo on their LinkedIN profile
33% have not set their customized (easy to read) LinkedIN public profile web address and
84% of my classmates that are missing a photo also lack a customized LinkedIN public profile web address.
So let’s get that profile photo uploaded and configure your public profile to include an easy-to-remember LinkedIN public address. (Go to Edit Profile – Edit Public Profile)
Change this: www.LinkedIN.com/IN/RittJOe&fdsdlkf432h6f5
2. Create a Google profile. If someone Googles your name, you should be in control of what you want them to read. Add your public profile link to this profile (it takes two minutes). www.google.com/profiles
3. Create a simple personal page. It’s very easy to do through websites like http://www.flavors.me (example: www.RicardoGarciaAmaya.com ). Here too you can easily import and maintain your LinkedIN information by just adding your public profile address.
4. Update your contact and professional information on Facebook. Include the link to your LInkedIN profile as well as your personal site (and Twitter handle).
5. Start using your Twitter account! There are plenty of professional blogs explaining why Twitter is important. I am simply going to assume that you are past the point of acceptance and will go on to share the best way to begin using Twitter. It’s a slow process to getting started because you have to be proactive in finding interesting people to follow (your favorite journalists, authors, industry leaders etc.) Dedicate 20 minutes to do this. Once you do, you will be glad you did and you will begin to understand the power of the platform. You will find yourself always informed on your favorite subjects as well as those important to your career.
a. The key to start using Twitter is to make sure you setup the Twitter app on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/Twitter. This way, as you build followers in Twitter you can broadcast your message to your already established Facebook community (and you don’t feel like you are tweeting to no one).
b. Also, very important… upload a photo and a bio to your Twitter account before you begin following people. People will only want to follow you back if you let them know who you are and what your field of interest is in your short bio.
Finally, do not be afraid to write. Write about anything you like. It doesn’t need to be a life changing essay. Open an account with Tumblr.com or Posterous.com to start a blog. To get started, upload an old essay or school project that you like.
TIP: When you write, do not focus on whether you are offering something new to the world, otherwise you will never write. Instead write something that your group of friends or communities can learn from.
We can all start by sharing positive content and influencing our own small community of friends and followers.
Hope you found this helpful,