Several years ago, I was on a CEO panel. As the moderator asked me questions, I noticed that all of us on stage were answering along similar lines. We were being asked about the use of social media in an increasingly mobile world. I think we were all pleased with our answers. They sounded…informed, smart, forward-thinking.

There was just one problem.

None of us was qualified to answer.

That became obvious to me when, after I walked off the stage, someone stopped me and said, “Skip, you really should jump in. Don’t talk about it. Do it. See for yourself what it’s like, and I think it will change everything.”

When I finally did jump in, I did it in a big way. Twitter became a constant companion, and I was hooked. A month later, I started my Leadership Insights blog.

Why do I do it?

To share. Sharing ideas, insights, and inspiration is something I enjoy. I meet so many incredibly interesting people. How selfish it would be if I didn’t share what I am learning?

To give back. I have been so incredibly blessed and want to help others achieve and excel in their own endeavors.

To communicate. Communicating ideas in this fashion can make it easier to lead an organization. If everyone is reading your principles and seeing real-time what’s on your mind, it creates a better understanding.

To connect. When I see what other people are reading and writing, I am learning and connecting with them on a new level.

To learn. I’m a much better writer and thinker now that I have gone social. Trained as an attorney, I would write missives that would put you to sleep. I now can communicate much more powerfully in a few bullets.

To meet new people. Every year since I have gone social, I have met people online that have made a difference in my life and in my business. There are so many people I can now call when I have a problem that I am never alone or far from an expert.

To build trust. I didn’t intend this, but I have seen that the more authentic you are online, the more others trust you. That helps in many ways. I also trust people more because I follow them. By the time we actually meet in person, I already “know” the person.

To understand. We all approach things from our own point of view. When you are truly social, you learn to see things through the eyes of others. That increases your understanding and makes you more empathetic.

To listen. I listen to my customers and competitors in social media. I listen to experts share trends.

To challenge. I like the challenge of constantly learning new social media techniques.

To recruit. This was another unanticipated benefit, but I have seen that a social presence increases an organization’s recruiting effectiveness.

To improve results. Studies show that companies where the CEO is socially minded have better results. Only months into it, I already was coming across business opportunities that otherwise would never have appeared. I learned about something we were doing wrong that I would have likely not known for months. I received advice that made an enormous difference in our strategy. None of these things I anticipated. And I still cannot adequately explain the power of going social and how it improves results in ways that I never imagined. Perhaps it’s because it improves me. It is slowly making me a more aware leader.

I can only give the same advice that was given to me: “Don’t talk about it. Do it. See for yourself what it’s like, and I think it will change everything.”

About Skip Prichard

Skip Prichard is an accomplished CEO, growth-oriented business leader, turnaround specialist, and keynote speaker. He is known for his track record of successfully repositioning companies and dramatically improving results while improving the corporate culture. Mr. Prichard’s views have been featured in various media including the BBC, New York Times, CNN, NPR, Daily Beast, Harvard Business Review, Information Today, The Bookseller, Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and others. Skip is also “intensely” social. His Leadership Insights blog has won numerous awards. There, he has written hundreds of articles and interviewed countless leaders ranging from former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to Atlanta Braves’ John Smoltz to journalist Dan Rather.

Mr. Prichard is currently President & CEO of OCLC, a global technology company and research organization. Prior to OCLC, Mr. Prichard served for nearly five years as CEO of Ingram Content Group, a $1.5B+ global content provider. During his tenure, he returned the company to a profitable position and oversaw significant growth. Before Ingram, Mr. Prichard was President & CEO of ProQuest Information & Learning where he led a successful transformation, achieving double-digit growth and returning the company to profitability. Earlier in his career, Mr. Prichard held a number of executive positions with LexisNexis.

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