CFOs, Social Media, and Email

Remember when …

–The Post Office was actually relevant because all correspondence came through your mailbox?

–IBM Selectric typewriters and “White Out” transformed office environments?

–30-second jingles heard on TV were “the” advertising medium?

And then …

–Mail was first replaced by fax transmissions, and now email.

–Memory typewriters and gargantuan computers replaced electric typewriters. Does the product “White Out” even exist today?

–Thankfully, intrusive push advertising became easily handled with a push of the mute button.

And today …

–There’s a computer in almost every home; and

–According to an Internet trends report by Morgan Stanley, email usage is flattening out as social media usage is increasing. 

What does the SM trend mean for you as a Chief Financial Officer? Maybe nothing if you are one of the few CFOs embracing the power of Web 2.0 technology. If you’re not onboard, you might get run over because this train is coming … and coming at full speed.

Beyond the typical career strategies social media facilitates (Tweeting, Social Media Boat, Sequel), here are some ways you can begin easing into the new technology …

–Use a private or internal Twitter account to rapidly and transparently communicate with your entire finance or executive team and/or track high priority projects;

–Encourage your executive leadership team to get on Linked In with complete profiles to raise the visibility and credibility of your company;

–Make your loyal clients or customers feel exclusive and inclusive with a private group on Linked In or a Facebook fan page. (If you’re a CFO and would like to join my CFO Careers group on Linked In, please send me an email and I’ll send you an invitation to join … or follow my Facebook Business page.)

I’d love to hear how you, as the chief finance leader, are leveraging the power of social media either corporately or individually.

Five Key Steps for Building a Linked In Profile

As social media tools continue to be a critical piece of an overall corporate recruiting strategy, CFOs and senior finance executives will want to leverage powerful positioning on Linked In. How your profile is perceived by recruiters is paramount to getting a second look or, even better, a call on a first look. 

Five key areas to pay attention to include …

— A Powerful Branded Summary 

 

This is not your daddy’s boring bio either. This summary, limited by 2,000 characters, is your opportunity to showcase how you do what you do (your brand) that is different and unique from others who do the same or similar things.  

 

This limited summary section forces you to concentrate on the value you offer and deliver it succinctly. The process of unearthing and condensing down your marketable value proposition into a clear and compelling accomplishment statement is one of “the” most valuable things you can do for yourself.  

 

Ignoring the summary section relegates you, by omission, to commodity status. Do what others are NOT doing and get noticed! 

 

— Complete Experience Section

 

It is great to have your employers and job titles, past and present, listed as part of your profile. But that is not enough. In the world of key searches, more is better.  The amount of information online acts as a pre–qualifier and gives both you and a prospect a framework to begin establishing a relationship. 

 

— Vanity URL 

Grab your vanity URL to increase your Google rankings and add branded consistency to your online presence.   

 

— Join Groups 

 

Within the 60 million Linked In ocean of users, you are a mere bait fish. By joining groups, the size of the pond shrinks and your presence grows exponentially. Joining groups allows you to mingle with like–minded folks, gain access to their contact information … even if the person is not a 1st degree contact in your network, and become even more visible to recruiters.

— Get Recommended 

Third party recommendations are extremely important on Linked In. These are very powerful endorsements that add credibility to the statements in your profile and employment history, and are critical to your positioning.

What does your Linked In profile say about you? Do you stand out from the other Chief Financial Officers who have done the same or similar things as you … or are have you relegated yourself to commodity status? 

If you're a Chief Financial Officer and you're on Linked In, please consider connecting with me and joining our CFO Careers group. 

Inbound vs. Outbound for Marketing YOU

Doug Haslam wrote a great blog post about inbound marketing, and he’s right, it has everything to do with your career. Here’s an excerpt …

Inbound Marketers flip outbound marketing on its head.

Instead of interrupting people with television ads, they create videos that potential customers want to see. Instead of buying display ads in print publications, they create their own blog that people subscribe to and look forward to reading. Instead of cold calling, they create useful content and tools so that people call them looking for more information.

This definition concentrates on content creation, but the real meat is the phrase “people call them.”

It’s the old push / pull marketing terms with new names. The result, though, is the same. You can either push your message to people who don’t care, won’t listen, and are happy to round file your resume … I call this the spaghetti strategy … or you can pull your target market to you with a clear, compelling, and visible brand. Which would you rather do?

Inbound marketing has everything to do with proactively managing your career and the very best time to begin is when you are happy, satisfied, and doing well in your current position. If you are a CFO or finance executive who has been missing the social media boat, it is not too late to jump on board. You have everything to gain and absolutely nothing to lose. 

In CNN’s Executive Education article, "How not to ruin your next career move,” Matt Knight says this …

Executives at the top, as well as people lower down the career ladder are sometimes so desperate to leave their job that they don't plan their career moves and lurch from job to job instead of waiting for the right position.

Desperation can often become the breeding ground for bad decision-making and/or result in a very long job search. I was talking with an executive recruiter who places CFOs earlier this week and he told me one of the most aggravating parts of his job was when prospective candidates, who clearly did not meet his client’s specs, tried to talk him into believing they could do the job anyway. Desperation can also cause otherwise great networking contacts to sour very quickly.

Think of your career as Business You and begin strategizing your inbound marketing plan today.

The Sequel … Are CFOs Missing the Social Networking Boat?

If you identified with yesterday’s post and recognize that you are a CFO who is missing the social media boat, here are a few thoughts for your consideration. 

There’s an interesting article on Digiday entitled “Forever Jung: What Makes Social Media Social.” Here’s a relevant excerpt … 

The more a message resonates, the more “social” it becomes. We have many “tools” to facilitate this sharing:  email, Twitter, Facebook, Digg, Reddit, etc.  But it’s imperative that we not confuse our tools with our goals. It is the connection to the “second psychic system” that remains the essential component of “social media.” Understanding this reintroduces the notion that what we say is more important than how we say it.  Empty messages don’t connect because the collective deems them not worth sharing.

Social media sites are merely facilitators of conversation. And NO message is an EMPTY message. 

Content may be king of the Internet, but engaging rules social media. In fact, the infamous “6 degrees of separation” has been reduced to 5 degrees by virtue of the Internet. Think about that. It is quite likely you can reach your target prospect through a mere five people. But not if you aren’t engaging with anyone.

I was reading a newsletter in which a gentleman said he had applied for a CFO position with an Internet start-up. However, the response he got was that his knowledge of the Internet and social media experience were so UNDER-whelming that he referred to himself as a “fossil.” He could well be on his way to being extinct. 

Here’s something you may not know. Since 2005, the demand for social media jobs has increased by 325%. How will you compete for finance leadership positions at companies who are integrating social media to support their core business practice and mission if you, as an otherwise qualified CFO, have missed the social media boat … professionally and corporately? 

If nothing more, embracing social media can put you at the front of the pack. In fact,  as a senior-level finance executive, it could even help you leave the competition in the dust. Not solely because you are perceived as “Internet or Web 2.0” savvy, but because you have strong visibility among the people who need to know about you. Playing in the social media arena goes a long way towards helping you be prepared for the unexpected, or, even better, ensuring that you can execute your 3-to-5-year career plan. You do have a plan, right?

Are CFOs Missing the Social Networking Boat?

There are lists of CEOs who tweet and CIOs who tweet … but where are the lists of CFOs who are active in any kind of social media? Yes, I do have a CFO list on my Twitter stream, many courtesy of CFOWise. Are there any others?

I was talking with the owner of MyCFONetwork.com earlier this week, catching up after the holidays, and inquiring whether his membership was engaging with each other within the various communities. He said not really. In fact, what he was hearing was that they wanted more content. 

Wait. More content? Are CFOs missing the social media boat? I’m going to go out on a limb here and say, ah … yes

Whether you tweet or don’t tweet isn’t the issue. The real issue is that not embracing social media is a huge career mistake.

Twitter, Linked In, Facebook, and even MyCFONetwork are merely tools that facilitate the ability to  … talk with people – and – get on the radar screen of people who need to know about you. In case you didn’t know, or you forgot, it is not who you know that matters today, but rather “who knows about you.” 

I read a great article in which this quote appeared …

The only thing avoiding social media does for you is it takes your voice entirely out of the conversation. It doesn’t make you invisible, it makes you mute.

And, it makes you vulnerable.

I spoke with a CFO yesterday who was happily employed one day and shown the door the next. He was caught completely unaware, and was completely unprepared for a job loss and a job search. His digital footprint is non-existent. That means, 

–he has two huge obstacles to overcome … age bias and unemployment; and

–his search must ramp up from ground zero. 

He is in his mid-50’s and, understandably, very worried. He doesn’t have the luxury of a strong online and offline network, visibility among his target market, and the credibility of a dense digital footprint. What he does have is an uphill battle.

Look for Part 2 … Getting IN the Boat … coming up next. 

To Tweet or Not to Tweet?

I was just re-reading CFO.com’sHeard on the Tweet” in preparation for this blog post. The question really is, should CFOs tweet … or not?

And then, as often happens, this tweet jumped out at me before I typed a single word. It pointed me to a great blog post by Gary Boomer, “Social Media, Influence or Control.” While it is directed to accounting firms, I believe it contains excellent points for CFOs as well.

Here’s an important excerpt:

Clients and potential clients are talking about you and your firm online. Do you know what they are saying? According to Nielsen Research, 78 percent of people trust their peers' opinions. This is not a new phenomenon, but social networks make it much easier to disseminate information. In particular, micro-blogging tools like Twitter and Facebook's status update feature enable users (including businesses) to spread information instantly.

Boomer is right. And I also agree with his statement that “firms should make every effort to influence social media and forget about trying to control how employees use them.” However, that is a corporate decision that only you and the executive leadership team can make.

The impact of a decision to not influence social media, though, for you and your career is far-reaching. Consider these … very true … statements.

— “You are who Google says you are.”  

Much like your brand, who you are is held in the hearts and minds of others. Are you who Google says you are? 

— “If you don’t show up in Google, do you exist?”

Being digitally dead is akin to being extinct.

You can certainly choose to ignore the social media trend, but it’s not going away. And as I said yesterday, the choice to not be proactive is a decision, by default, to be reactive. The question is, if you react too slowly or too late will you be able to cover the gap quickly enough to compete with your social media savvy peers (ahem, competition)?

The Brown Paper Bag Syndrome

So here’s my question. It’s Monday morning and you are jazzed about the great networking opportunities that await you. You’re dressed to the nines, get out of your car, walk to the door …

Are you going to slip a brown paper bag over your head before you walk into the room?

Sounds like a silly, even stupid, question .. right? But now let me ask you this, do you have a professional picture on all of your social media sites? If not, I’m very curious … why not? Isn’t not having a photo akin to networking with a paper bag over your head? Do you like putting a face with a name, or doesn’t it matter to you? 

And here’s my final question. If you don’t have  a picture, are you networking or are you simply place holding?

With the critical part that a visible online presence plays in managing your career, a compelling profile and professional photograph are two very key components!

It’s a Little Hard to be Taken Seriously When …

I was reading the link from a tweet this morning regarding SEO for your blog. The author had some interesting information, but, he is a web designer apparently using  a free blog service that was plastered with ads. It’s a little difficult for me to take the guy, or his expertise, seriously. So much so, I can’t even bring myself to provide the link.

Along with those who profess to be experts, yet use free web and blog services allowing advertising, here are some other situations that make it difficult for me to take others seriously.

Tweeps who have no tweets, no bio, and no name recognition.

It’s great to jump into social media with both feet, however, zeal without knowledge can be a brand killer. I also haven’t figured out why anyone who is using Twitter externally would protect their tweets. Maybe someone who’s reading this could explain it to me. And, seriously, I don’t understand.

An incomplete Linked In Profile

Those who choose to have only the most basic of information on Linked In send a couple of messages (at least to me). They don’t really “get” networking, especially social networking; they don’t care about their career; and they aren’t subject matter experts. 

At the other extreme is the poorly-crafted profile filled with sentences that all begin with “I”. Seriously, that is a little too self-promoting. And unbelievable.

Boring resumes and cover letters that shriek C-O-M-M-O-D-I-T-Y

A company isn’t hiring a CFO because they have a corner office with a nice view, currently unoccupied, and they are looking for a body to fill it. Nor are they hiring a person who brings chronology of responsibilities. Rather, a company who is in pain IS hiring the candidate who can take away that pain … and it better show up in your marketing documents if you want to be taken seriously. 

And read your cover letter for the “I” factor. If every sentence begins with “I,” you might have a serious credibility problem.

Why CFOs Should Venture Beyond Linked In

When I started my CFO-Coach Fan Page on Facebook (if you are on Facebook, you, too, can become a fan) and sent out invitations to my Linked In Finance Executives, I received several responses (thank you) saying, “I’d love to but I’m not on Facebook.” Uh oh. Not on Facebook? That might mean no Twitter or other Social Media either.

Here are several reasons why I believe Finance Executives should step beyond Linked In and embrace the power of other social networking sites. Here are four of them.

— Creates a more visible online presence

Linked In is a great networking tool and provides the opportunity for a long-term, updated career portfolio. Because of its very nature (business), it doesn’t afford recruiters and companies the chance to know you from a bigger picture perspective. Since culture fit is the hardest thing to hire for, Twitter and Facebook can add that perspective to your overall online presence. How do you think? What’s your communication style? What are your interests outside work? What books are you reading?  Done right, it’s all good.

— It positions you as tech savvy

Just like an AOL address speaks volumes about your technical skills (or lack thereof), so does NOT leveraging the cool new web 2.0 tools. You probably don’t even know what you’re missing … but those younger folks coming up behind you DO know and are using it to their advantage.

— Your colleagues aren’t doing it

Part of standing out from the pack means going where others are too afraid to go. Or, for whatever reason, just haven’t gone there yet. Blaze the path. Those that do definitely get on the radar screen of recruiters looking for top talent.

— Builds density within your digital footprint

Have you figured out your Google Quotient yet? If the only thing that appears is your Linked In profile … well, that’s better than nothing. However, the more dense your footprint, the more credible you are. And if you have a common name, it’s only a matter of time until your are competing with them for those coveted first page spots.

I have a few more reasons, but you can only read about them in the discussion area of my Fan Page. Consider this your personal invitation to get inside career information specifically for the Senior Finance Executive community and join me … and your peers … at the CFO-Coach Facebook Fan Page.

Think Like a Recruiter

I had lunch with Doug Franklin, a local recruiter, last week. If you’ve read my blog for any length of time, you know that I love getting into the minds of recruiters … how do they think, what makes them tick, and more importantly, how do the operate. Doug is a class act and was a wealth of information as he generously allowed me to pick his brain. Here’s some of what we discussed.

Since I work with CFOs, many of whom have been reticent to adopt social media … particularly anything outside of Linked In, I asked specifically about his recruiting methods and those of his colleagues.  Doug’s primary direct sourcing strategy is Linked In. His colleagues use Linked In AND other social media websites as their primary strategies to direct source candidates. (Notice the absence of job boards?)

That led to our discussion around passive versus unemployed candidates. Doug has been unemployed in the past and has a compassionate side for those who find themselves in that situation. However, here’s what he said …

Clients don’t pay us to present candidates they themselves can find in job board databases.

WOW! If there was ever a compelling reason for executives to create and execute a career survival plan that includes fully embracing the power of building a visible online presence, that statement is it. Doug went on to say that he will sometimes include unemployed candidates as part of his slate of candidates, but never more than 25% because … that is not who clients are paying him to find.

Candidates have the most power when they are inside looking out. While nothing changes about a candidate’s skill set, experience, or record of contributions once he’s on the outside looking in with a big severance package in his pocket; the reality is, his marketability still takes a huge hit.

With the slow down of hiring, and according to Doug excruciatingly slow hiring decisions  as companies are willing to wait for the “right” candidate not just “a” candidate, executing a career survival plan on an ongoing basis and long before you need it, is critical to securing positioning as that “valuable” passive candidate that companies want and are willing to pay recruiters big bucks to get.

In my next post, I'll be providing my thoughts on why CFOs should embrace a social media strategy beyond Linked In … and including Facebook.