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business_branding(Read time = 3-4  minutes)   Breaking new ground, today, as we invite our first guest, leadership blogger Kevin Liebl to add his fingerprint to our B2B marketing conversation… discussing here his thoughts and ideas around the “new” corporate landscape as social media and new technology tools are transforming  the space. Kevin and I sat down over a virtual cup o’Joe.   I recorded the discussion and wanted to share Kevin’s thoughts with the resulting QA below. Enjoy!

Scoopdog:  So Kevin, as a quick introduction, you’ve blogged extensively on marketing leadership and have just recently returned to a familiar marketing/operations role, that of senior VP with a California start-up software venture. Before we jump into a specific discussion, how goes the new position and can you comment on aspects of social media that you see as value-add to the start-up business community?


LieblGuest: Kevin Liebl  Social media, I believe, is dramatically changing the management and marketing landscape. In my 25+ years as a marketing executive, I’ve never witnessed such a game-changing inflection point. I’m particularly interested in conversations around the impact this has on the management leadership team… that’s a principle reason I started my blog: “The Marketing Evolution”. Business fundamentals haven’t changed but the tools and methodologies have. In a start-up environment, in particular, this change is accelerated even more, and provides even more opportunity for business advantage. I view social media as a means to tap into existing communities for a very low real-dollar cost, and arrive at effective, focused marketing and brand-building initiatives. This is a fascinating and very focused way to engage with target communities.

 
Scoopdog:  Our discussion premise is that today’s marketing job and the business space is different today than it was for the previous generation of leaders, or even from just 5 years ago. That said, what do marketers and managers do about it?

Kevin: I break the conversation down into five steps: building a business network… being in a state of constant transition… a manager’s evolving role… personal branding… and finally, what I call your “portfolio income”. Let’s start with the first: the business network. We hear over and over again about the value of trusted networks, of the importance of personal networks. This isn’t new. Trouble is, most people don’t really understand what it means, and very few actively build and maintain a productive personal network. It isn’t until we are between jobs that we realize how important our network is.  It is critical to have strong peer connectivity but the time to build your network  isn’t when you are in transition– that’s the most difficult time to create one.

 

Scoopdog: This is the relationship piece, right? It’s not so much about the numbers of followers or LinkedIn connections, but rather laying the relationship groundwork to both make today’s job productive and efficient while preparing yourself for tomorrow’s job.

 
Kevin: Exactly. The best of business behavior has always been about relationships, at the core… and then about transitions, my “Step Two” in preparing yourself for the new corporate landscape. Statistically, business professionals change jobs every 18 to 36 months. This could be due to upward mobility (you got a better job), or due to rightsizing (you got laid off). You should consider every full-time project a consulting engagement, because that is what it is. You are brought in “to turn the company around”, “to create a new department”, or “to move the startup to a possible exit”. Your role is not a career, but rather a consulting project when you think about it. As they say, “full-time employees are just between ‘transition’ stages”.

 

Scoopdog:  To follow up, the business/job turmoil of the past few years has broken most molds. Traditional jobs are scarce, if found at all. What are your thoughts around the idea you mentioned earlier of creating new roles?


Kevin:  Today’s marketer or manager needs to be thinking differently, and in many cases, be about creating a self-defined, value-add role for within a company rather than just sticking to the hiring-in job description and expecting “the company” to primarily direct your career path. New roles are evolving all the time. Who was hiring a “social media” expert five years ago? Think of all the people giving seminars on LinkedIn today? Your new role may not have existed the last time you were in search mode. Think creatively and look for unconventional opportunities (e.g., remote employment, consulting, etc.) – your competition is. Taking charge of defining your own company worth can certainly be challenging but the alternative is that you may find you are on the street rather than your being a leader in directing the company forward.

 

Scoopdog: This certainly speaks to personal brand/branding. There’s tons of buzz on this flying around the web. Can you put this piece into perspective, as you view the leadership function…

 
Kevin: This is probably the most important thing you can do. It is a broad topic and I promise to dedicate an entire post to it shortly. Think about the value you bring to a company, and begin to determine how you want to position yourself in the market. Whether you are a sales executive, a CFO or an office manager, you need to position yourself as an expert to your target market. This can be done online (e.g., blogs, websites, Twitter, Facebook) or in-person (e.g., industry networking events, speaking opportunities) or through traditional media (e.g., published articles). There are many tools available to build your brand. However, without an established brand in the market, it is very difficult to sell yourself when you are in transition.

 

Scoopdog: Thanks for that. So, we’ve covered Network, Transition, Role and Brand. Familiar concepts from my B-school days. What’s up with your idea around “Portfolio Income”?


Kevin: Here, I’m really now speaking more broadly than just the singular job a person might hold at a point in time. More inclusive… holistic. I’m also framing the “income” conversation more broadly than financial. Income can be in the form of relationships, knowledge growth, positive feedback or the opportunity to help others. More and more, people have “incomes” from multiple sources. Sometimes this is in a very real sense. For exsample, they may derive income from contract work, being an “advisor”, a small web-based business, etc…  The point is, more and more people are creating incomes from multiple sources.  However more importantly, it’s the income portfolio you build outside the traditional definition. Will you invest time learning new technologies/skills in advance of need? Can your personal network expand to add tangent experiences? How does lifestyle play into the larger employee/employer picture, particularly given remote workplace strategies?

 
All these things provide the grounding to become better prepared for the new corporate world and new technologies that are dramatically shifting how we behave as employees, and how we communicate with our target audience/customer communities. I’d love to hear others comment on this topic, either here or on my own blog site (link). Please, weigh-in.

 
Scoop… thanx for the chance to join your B2B marketing conversation.

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