Is social media proficiency really a life skill?

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By Mark Schaefer

Over the past few months I have enjoyed working with Cisco and a project headed by the company’s director of leadership, Robert Kovach.

I’ve been helping Robert with a program to coach Cisco executives with social media proficiency and on how they can become “known,” based on the principles of my new book which is cleverly titled … KNOWN.

Why is it important for senior executives to master something like social media and personal branding? Don’t they have enough on their plates?

“I believe social media proficiency is a life skill,” Robert told me. “We will be more effective leaders and employees by optimizing our full potential, our full network, in the digital space.”

That statement blew me away. Most companies are trying to keep a tight control on their employees and Robert and his team are encouraging employees to find their voice online as an essential life skill. Isn’t that cool?

And I happen to agree.

The argument for eminence

There is only one sustainable advantage an individual can carry with them throughout their career today. And it is this: To be known.

The person with a social media proficiency and a profound digital presence will have the doors open. The person who is known online will have the customer answer the phone. The person who is known will have an advantage in a job interview.

I recently had an illuminating conversation on this topic with my friend Andrew Grill of IBM. He called this trait of becoming known “eminence,” which is a lovely word and an accurate description of what we need to achieve. What company has eminence? Which sales team has eminence? Which brand? What person? Eminence will determine who wins in the digital age.

A small case study

A few years ago, I was up for a huge consulting contract … the biggest of my career. The stakes were high and part of the vetting process involved a live Skype interview with the procurement team.

As I started my presentation and going through my qualifications, the director of procurement interrupted me. “Oh Mr. Schaefer, we all know who you are. We read your blog.”

I knew at that moment that the competition was over. I would win this contract because I was known. And, I did.

The aspects of our lives that used to symbolize power — a job title, where you went to college, or what powerful family you married into — don’t matter any more. People on the web don’t know, and they don’t care. Your meaningful and intentional digital presence — your eminence — is more important than your resume or any awards you’ve won.

To win today, you need to become known. And I have written just the book to help you.

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Mark Schaefer is the chief blogger for {grow} executive director of Schaefer Marketing Solutions, and the author of several best-selling digital marketing books. He is an acclaimed keynote speaker, college educator, and business consultant. The Marketing Companion podcast is among the top business podcasts in the world. Contact Mark to have him speak to your company event or conference soon.

Illustration courtesy Flickr CC and Sergie Stoma.

Originally published at on February 13, 2017.

Written by

Chieftain of the blog {grow}, strategy consultant, educator, podcaster, author of Return On Influence, The Content Code, and The Tao of Twitter.

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