Don’t Just Sit There, Say Something!

by Russ Hill on April 21, 2011

When I was in my early 20s and new to management our market vp invited me to start attending her weekly department head management meetings.

I was a low level manager. The type that typically wasn’t invited to these gatherings.

I’ll never forget sitting around that boardroom table. I was the youngest, by far, in the room. The environment was foreign to me. And, I was completely intimidated.

Board RoomSo intimated that I never spoke.

Week after week I said nothing.

Nada.

Finally, the vp summoned me to her office.

She made it clear she had taken a risk inviting me to these meetings and was beginning to wonder if it was a wise move on her part. In a firm, but caring, way she asked if I understood who controlled my growth opportunities at the company.

I answered “my boss.”

She asked me what positions he could promote me to. I listed a couple. Then, she asked what positions she could promote me to. I gave a much longer list.

In that moment my vision changed.

LIVING IN A SMALL BUBBLE

I instantly realized I was living in too small a bubble. The only person on my radar was my boss. He knew me as someone who was full of ideas and opinions about the direction of the company and our industry. He saw great value in me.

But, when placed on a bigger stage I had failed to impress a broader group that included people in higher positions. I hadn’t grasped the opportunity.  The opportunity of access to those who could have a significant impact on my future career growth.

The world has dramatically changed since that day I first walked into that boardroom.

The truth is boardrooms no longer have doors on them. And, now no one has to wait for an invitation to sit around the table in order to have access to those who could impact their future.

Social media changed all that.

THEY’RE LURKING AROUND YOU

You see, now, those who sit in corner offices spend time each week browsing the internet. Many of them are on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook. They’re lurking all around you as you make your way across the web.  You don’t recognize them because their usernames and profile pictures look like all the rest.

Each time you contribute to the conversation happening online you increase the likelihood they’ll discover you. See something you said. Click on a link to something you wrote.

The Social Web dramatically improves the opportunities available to those who have something valuable to offer.

But, too many of us are like me in that boardroom.

We’re not saying anything. Or, anything of value. We see social media as a place to check in at a gas station, post a line from a song we’re listening to, or upload a not-so-flattering picture from the party last night.

There’s nothing wrong with all of that, as long as it doesn’t completely define our online presence.  If checking in and posting party photos are all we’re doing online than we’re no different than me at that boardroom table.  We’re in a room full of people.  And, we’re saying nothing.

TAKE YOUR SEAT AT THE TABLE

Many of us are living in too small a bubble. We spend our time trying to impress our immediate boss and ignoring the fact we now have access to executives’ computer screens and investors’ smartphones.

Social media gives you a chair at the boardroom table.

At every boardroom table.

So, take your seat.

And, PLEASE, say something.

Anything.

Of value.

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