ADP's Mike Capone says he goes out of his way to encourage other executives to forgo sales pitches on social
media sites. "I don't use LinkedIn to try to knock down doors for sales. I want social and LinkedIn to be a safe
space," he says. "I don't ever want [connections] to feel threatened like I'm trying to sell them something."
That kind of no-pressure authenticity separates the stars from the wannabes. For real results, give real
feedback. Tomlinson does so often when it comes to the projects her department executes. She shares information,
successes and, yes, problems she's encountering debuting new initiatives.
"What we're finding is that a lot of the initiatives we're taking on are not so unique; they are initiatives
that others have tried and failed or tried and succeeded," Tomlinson says. She then uses that sort of honest
feedback to do her job better and help others do the same.
- Engage on an information-sharing level; no sales pitches or empty schmoozing.
- Don't be afraid to expose the challenges you're facing or ask for help.
Chances are, other executives out there are facing problems similar to your own. Authentic, honest engagement
with them produces exponential returns, as they'll not only help you with your problems, but tap your expertise for
And don't hand off social communications to subordinates, Tomlinson adds. "Social media personalizes you in a
way. Delegating it to your staff to communicate your passions and your vulnerabilities, I think it lessens the
That said, anyone using social media site for professional engagement would do well to share strongly held
religious, political and social views only with a smaller circle of friends and family.
Lead the way
Of course, social media doesn't stop outside company walls. Many executives are struggling with the question of
how to handle social media inside the organization.
While some companies may be tempted to simply block employees' social media use or certain types of engagement,
that's not the answer for most, says Malcolm Harkins, a vice president and chief information security officer at Intel. Because social media has become such a
norm for communication, he reasons that people will find a way to engage in it no matter what. "You've got to run
to the risk to shape the risk," he says.
That mentality is shared among many IT leaders. Social media is here, whether we like it or not. To best
maximize its potential, savvy executives would be wise to engage it intelligently to minimize the dangers.