When a recruiter or company owner uses Google or a social network to research a list of potential hires, how do you stack up? David Burns enlightens on an opportunity that assesses where you stand in relation to the competition. 

Social Media is a serious business, and the reason it is important enough to be included in a Sustainable Visibility report is simply because it affects everyone using the internet.

Social Media is a serious business, and the reason it is important enough to be included in a Sustainable Visibility report is simply because it affects everyone using the internet.

HAVE YOU ever wondered how visible you are to others in the business arena? Being visible is important to sales results and positive revenues, while on the other hand, being invisible may not bring you the recognition you need to open doors.

People do business with people they like, not people they don’t know or have never heard about. Building a business relationship for the long haul requires hard work and effort, part of which involves a significant amount of visibility.

There are many ways individuals become wealthy. Some inherit wealth and others win it in competitions. The majority of working humanity have to earn their wealth by working for it in an endeavour they are suited to or have an affinity for in terms of skill sets. Many people work in jobs they don’t like but don’t have the luxury of alternatives due to financial and commercial issues.

Pillars of visibility

The Sustainable Visibility Audit (SVA) breaks down into two sections – being offline and online – with each section being further broken down into the five pillars of sustainable visibility. The total of ten pillars are offline, personal, company, media, CSR and alternative whilst the online include, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google, and a blog.

A diagnostic tool has been developed to attribute a mark or score to the various elements of the SVA and from this we can determine the recipient’s level of visibility. In addition to the determination of the visibility score we will also provide some insights and assistance on how best to make improvements. Some examples of these pillars are explained below.

A regional leader once said “A country without a past is a country without a future”. This could also be true when examining one’s visibility. Different socio economic groups have differing levels of engagement with the people around them and in their sphere of influence.

Widening contact base

A good example of this is the recruitment process for companies like Abbey Life the International insurance company. During the 80’s (and I would stress here it was the 80’s and not the present day) they would visit university campuses to recruit graduates to sell insurance. The rationale behind this methodology was that many university students would come from an A1 socio economic group and would have many of the attributes required by the company.

These would include a large and interactive family unit, memberships to numerous groups, clubs, teams and forums which widened their contact base. They would be in touch with a large number of people on a regular basis and if asked to write down their contact could without difficulty produce a list of 200+ known friends, family and associates.

At the other end of the social scale would be students from a lower socio group, perhaps A3 or B1 who would not have as many family members, friends of memberships to groups. These students would not have a large number of people they could call associates or friends and would generally record much smaller numbers when asked to write down people they know.

When looking into visibility the previously categorised A1students would be more visible today than the other group due to their diligence in maintaining contact with their groups of friends, family and associates. Your past also includes where you lived, where you were educated, where you went on holiday, who you remember meeting or made friends with and who you still communicate with from those formative years.

Interaction with media

There is also the issue of the company we keep. Company in this context is our place of employment. Working for a multinational conglomerate would be far more visible than a small firm depending on the position and grade in which you are working.

Another aspect of visibility is the interaction you may have with the media. We would categorise media as any written, printed, spoken, filmed reported on, advertised or blogged any mention of your name in any context and for any reason.  The phrase ‘There’s no such thing as bad publicity’ is often associated with Phineas T. Barnum, the 19th century American showman and circus owner and in some cases is true today.

When issues of CSR are highlighted in the media the respondent’s often take remedial measure which in general enhance their own reputation overall. Failing to recognise the power of the press is a big mistake, but using the power of the press can bring untold rewards. CSR has been around for many years and is a well-supported industry in its own right.

Potential candidates quite often and without recognising their efforts become involved in CSR projects that provide visibility opportunities. Whilst many individuals and organisations would argue against the process of visibility in connection with CSR projects the reverse can also be true that by being visible at an event that alone highlights the issues and brings more visibility to the problem than if the event was kept quiet.

Visibility opportunities

The last pillar of the offline section can be summed up as alternative visibility opportunities. These are those one off incidents in each of the previous four pillars that bring instant visibility at any level. All of these events have a value and can be marked and scored depending on importance or relevance.

In today’s electronic environment incidents that happen are immediately reported and can go viral within hours. Unless properly managed opportunities to increase your visibility will be missed and results decreased. The most important element of any type of audit is its assurance. With a SVA the offline element is subjective and based on relevance and importance. The online element however, is based on defined analytics and information taken from third party elements linked to the social media in question.

The internet has evolved in the past decade to be personal. By this we mean ‘things’ are no longer categorised in lists and directories (as was the case in the late 1990’s), now things are shown to us based on our preferences. Every time we click a website our computer, or Google, or another system, remembers that click. If we keep clicking that website the system will start to understand that the website is important to us. The system will then show us other things that relate to that website. This system of relevance is endemic in today’s internet.

Facilitating communication

We use the internet every day, at work and at play, and the companies that dominate the internet are those that facilitate communication. LinkedIn (220 million users) was founded in 2003 by the same man who founded PayPal, which was another company that caused a disruption in the way we use the internet.

Facebook, founded a year later by Mark Zuckerberg, was the first social network to reach one billion users worldwide. It listed to an oversubscribed price. Google, LinkedIn, and Twitter, are also listed companies. Social Media is a serious business, and the reason it is important enough to be included in a Sustainable Visibility report is simply because it affects everyone using the internet.

Activity online can be measured. Every click of a mouse is recorded, every website visited, every advert watched. Every device that connects to the internet leaves a trail of data behind it, much like the breadcrumbs dropped in the Brothers Grimm tale Hansel and Gretel.

In the same way we interact offline, by attending events, publishing articles in newspapers and magazines, we act online by joining networks and managing blogs. In the same way as those two unfortunate children dropped bread to retrace a path, people drop small packets of data as they navigate the internet. It is these data packages that people find when they search the internet for content or information.

No great mystery
Understanding that search and social dominates the internet (Alexa Ranking: 1. Google, 2. Facebook, 3. YouTube, 4. Yahoo, 5. Baidu – a Chinese network), it is reasonable to deduce that our presence on them is important. In the same way a person may meet another person at more than one offline event, a user may encounter another user on more than one network.

There is no great mystery to networking online, the same principles apply to online as they do to offline. So the question begs, when a man wears a suit and tie to offline networking events, why does he not wear one online across all networks? The internet does not delete, accounts do not get closed. Everything that is uploaded stays uploaded, it just gets hidden from view when Delete is clicked.

Being visible online is important because the working world is connected more now than it ever has been. The world is not going to suddenly disconnect, and as the young get old, and the old get older, do the old need to become obsolete?

If a person is able to build a strong reputation in any given industry they will find success. Reputations are built on talent and personality. A manager could have the best academic background possible, and could have decades of experience. But if that man does not have the personality to lead a team, the team will not be led (and vice versa).

Sourcing talent

Given the nature of online networking it is possible to build a professional reputation outside of the company a person works for. It is now possible to connect and network with the people that have the authority to hire or place a candidate in their next position.

Using social networks people are able to direct their own careers in a way they could not previously. Likewise, Executive Search firms are able to source from a much larger talent pool, simply because more people in senior management roles are increasing their visibility.

Business mogul Richard Branson once said: “Whether you’re launching a startup, or expanding an established business, if you’re an entrepreneur and you don’t have a social media presence, your company is at a competitive disadvantage.”

This is equally true to those looking to further a career, or build or enhance a reputation. Branson refers in his quote to the awareness social media offers a company. If you are in the C-Suite, or looking to join it, people must know you exist, globally, people must know you exist. The internet is not restricted by time or national border, and is an inexpensive and efficient way to connect.

Building networks
There is a good chance you have a LinkedIn account. You probably have a few hundred connections, and you keep your LinkedIn connecting to people you know. After all, you don’t need to be connected to everyone. The LinkedIn network is not global. If a user searches for General Manager, and no one in his network (expanded by virtue of the connections of connections) has those words in their profile, the search result will show nothing.

Is your network large enough to allow users in other geographies to find your profile? LinkedIn allows a user to have 30,000 first degree connections. Knowing that LinkedIn is eleven years old, and that recruitment professionals are usually very well connected already, can the people that you need to meet connect with you using LinkedIn? Has your activity online been enough to attract the attention of head hunters already? Or have you arrived late to the game.

Sustainable Visibility audits give us an opportunity to assess where we stand in relation to the competition. There is no question that networking, both on and offline, works. The question is, how well do we network when compared to others? When a recruiter or company owner uses Google or a social network to research a list of potential hires, how do we stack up?

Article by; David J. Burns

Partner, UHY-Saxena