Big Ideas Summit 2016: Big Idea #28 – Outcome Focused Engagements

Procurement needs to focus on the outcome, the why, of every conversation it has with suppliers and stakeholders.

At the Big Ideas Summit 2016, we challenged our thought leaders to share their Big Ideas for the future of procurement.

From ideas that have the potential to change the very nature of the procurement profession, to ones that got the assembled minds thinking about the profession’s impact outside of the organisation, the response we received was amazing.

Focus on the Outcome

How can procurement professionals drive value for their organisations? For a start, they need to focus on the outcome of their conversations and supplier engagements before they have them.

Chris Cliffe, Director at CJC Procurement, believes that an outcome focus can help procurement in a number of ways. From inspiring their suppliers to wanting to work with them, and also understanding the needs of the other party, it will all ultimately drive a better relationship.

Catch up with all the delegates’ Big Ideas from the 2016 Summit at the Procurious Learning Hub.

Want to find out more about Big Ideas 2016? And maybe what we have planned for 2017? You can visit our dedicated website!

If you like this (and you haven’t done so already) join Procurious for free today. Get connected with over 18,500 like-minded procurement professionals from across the world.

2016 Rewind – Procurement KPIs – Measuring the Unmeasurable

Our final rewind article for 2016 is on one of the hot topics of the year – procurement KPIs. More specifically, how do you go about measuring the unmeasurable? 

Procurement KPIs

Is it time to develop new procurement KPIs? As the profession delivers more value, we need to consider measuring the ‘unmeasurable’.

How on earth do you put a KPI against innovation in procurement? How about risk management? Or talent? It’s time for the profession to come together and quantify the value we deliver beyond cost savings.

For me, a revelation that came out of the discussion at The Beyond Group’s “Productivity in Pharma” (PiP) Think Tank in Basel last month, was that there is an urgent need to create procurement KPIs that fully reflect the broader value our profession delivers.

Unfortunately, we will never escape the requirement to track savings (and nor should we; we’re good at it!), but it’s time to define the value-addition areas of what we deliver – productivity, innovation and risk management – in hard dollar terms so that we can quantify our value delivery in these areas.

In my previous post, I shared five rules of thumb for good procurement KPIs. To recap, each KPI should be:

  • clearly linked to an overall business objective,
  • uncomplicated and measurable in hard-dollar terms,
  • based on outcomes, not inputs,
  • not too long nor too many (five to six KPIs at a maximum),
  • achievable and inspirational.

Taking these rules as a starting point, let’s look at five value-addition areas that every procurement professional should be measured against:

  1. Productivity

I know there are a lot of CPOs out there who are tired of the old ‘cost savings’ metric.  And I understand it. But the reality is that cost savings is at least ONE thing that clearly defines our contribution. If we walk away from this, then we have lost an important anchor.

However, we do need to ensure that the broader business audience understands procurement is about so much more than savings, and that we can clearly define value in other areas as well.

One important point I would make (an opinion also shared by ISM CEO Tom Derry at the Procurious Big Ideas Summit) is around cost avoidance. Don’t insult yourself, or your CFO, by reporting on this metric. Costs that have been avoided simply don’t count.

  1. Efficiency

There are so many ways CPOs can deliver efficiency gains that result in bottom-line value for their organisations. In the pharmaceutical world, I imagine this would be measured in terms of speed to market (or “speed to patient”, as one clever pharma Procurement Head put it), faster clinical trials or even the good old basics like reducing inventory.

There are so many ways that procurement can free up cash in the business, but the hard dollar value of this needs to be quantified – which is not impossible.

Business cases are always based on the time value of money. Net Present Value (NPV) is a fundamental financial measurement for businesses. So, before you embark on one of these efficiency projects, work with your finance team to agree on a calculation for the hard dollar value of the efficiency gain, then deliver it, and stick to the agreed value!

  1. Innovation

Procurement rock-star and former CPO of Deutsche Telecom, Eva Wimmers, talked last year about incentivising procurement-driven innovation by creating a suite of relevant KPIs, including cost and time savings achieved as a direct result of innovative improvements.

Innovation KPIs can be process-centric, behavioural or customer-focused (such as service and net promoter scores). What’s important is that every KPI is measurable in its own right and clearly connected to overall corporate objectives. 

  1. Risk management

This is a powerful measurement that will capture the attention of your CEO and other executives. You see, the challenge with risk management (like safety) is that the ultimate success is when nothing goes wrong!

Procurement and other parts of the organisation can spend a lot of time and energy securing supply relationships and carefully managing contingencies, which result in absolutely nothing happening (which is a good thing!). At the C-level it is, therefore, quite easy to take risk management for granted and be tempted to reduce funding and resources in this area.

Actually, safety is a very powerful metaphor for the role procurement plays in managing risk. Nothing captures an executive’s interest more than safety. The language and methodology of safety measurement is well known to executives, most of whom are rewarded on safety metrics.

So, rather than re-invent the wheel with a whole new set of measurements around risk, simply reframe risk in a safety context.  Work with your safety department to understand their metrics, explain what you are measuring and get their advice on how they would construct metrics for risk management in procurement.

When ‘selling in’ your risk management KPI to senior management, don’t underestimate the power of good storytelling. It is critical to illustrate your business case with rich examples of how much market share and stock market value has been lost by competitors and peers when supply chain risk is not properly managed.

Disaster Protection

Traditionally, we have valued this in terms of potential legal costs, but today it is so much more than that. Social media now ensures that your end customers (and the press) quickly become aware of supply chain issues, and these are amplified to such a point that they result in loss of market share and ultimately share price value.

Supply chain disruptions can have catastrophic impacts on corporate brand and equity value. Procurement, however, can play a huge part in protecting the company from this type of disaster, and I believe this is one of the most valuable roles we can play today. Risk management must therefore be highlighted and reported upon in our procurement KPIs.

As you will see at the close of this story, my bold recommended KPI for risk management is number of days supply chain disruption reported in media (with the objective of keeping this at zero!).

As a side point, research in the US has shown that companies who have invested in appropriate social procurement (projects that aligned and complement your brand) will bounce back faster after a market ‘shock’ event.

  1. People

Call people what you will – ‘assets’, ‘human capital’, or even ‘resources’ – but I prefer to use the word ‘talent’. People are frequently regarded as an enabler metric, but I think it should be much more than that.

We should position procurement as a source of leadership talent for the business. Particularly if we believe what we say (and I do!) that procurement provides some of the best commercial training of any function.

Procurement offers its team members the opportunity to work across the business internally, as well as externally. So let’s put our money (and our KPIs) where our mouth is! Develop a metric that measures procurement’s contribution to developing leadership talent. Once again, this is something to which senior leadership is very committed in the best organisations. 

So, to be provocative – here are six procurement KPIs that I would put forward as a CPO today:

  1. Cost savings – $ saved in financial year
  2. Productivity – $ released through working capital initiatives
  3. Innovation – Projected $ value delivered through procurement-negotiated supplier-led innovation.
  4. Risk management: Number of days supply chain disruption reported in media.
  5. Talent: Number of employees who have worked in procurement and are now on the enterprise leadership development program.

Procurement KPIs are a hot topic for everyone, and I’m sure you won’t agree with all my points. So…what are your thoughts?

2016 Rewind – Best of eLearning – Disrupting the Status Quo

We’re counting down to the new year by looking back at some great eLearning content from 2016. Here, we learn how technology can help procurement disrupt the status quo.

disrupting status quo

“If you’re not disrupting, them you’re being disrupted.”

This was one of the key learning points we heard regarding procurement technology this year. And when it comes to technology, you always need to ask the experts. That’s exactly what we did in a webinar in early November.

We invited representatives from Oracle and Enrich to Procurious HQ to talk about the way procurement can leverage technology in key areas.

Status Quo No More

The current pace of change around the world is unprecedented. Procurement and the wider organisation are quickly recognising that maintaining the status quo will not suffice in staying ahead of the pack.

This is only a small sample of the webinar, but you can download the rest here.

While many organisations talk the talk about technology, few actually walk the walk. And for many, the status quo is still how they go about their business. But as times change, organisations are recognising that they need to as well.

During the course of the webinar, we heard:

  • Why the challenge for business is to be able to adapt and apply new solutions for innovation and competitive advantage;
  • Why many organisations are still grappling with getting data into a structured and accurate form that they can use for predictive analytics;
  • That people tend to underestimate the complexity of stitching together the myriad vendor solutions as they aim for a more B2C-type interface; and
  • That change management is vital in technology implementation, or people will revert to old habits.

So make sure that your technology implementations in 2017 go smoothly by learning the lessons of the past. If you want next year to be the one where your procurement team leaps forward, you’ll need to ensure your technology is working for you, not against you.

You can read more about how technology can help boost procurement on the Procurious Blog. You can also catch up with other thought leadership from our community on the eLearning Hub. And there’s a whole lot more there to keep you interested too! Happy viewing!

2016 Rewind – Only 24 Hours in a Day – Manage Your Time Wisely

Our second rewind article for 2016 might be one you can put to use early in January. We all could manage our day better, and here are some top tips for you.

time day management

Time. The one thing we could all do with more of, but relentlessly slips past. Are you spending your day wisely?

Tick, tock, tick, tock. The seconds tick past, even while you’re reading this article on using your day efficiently. Have you allowed for some personal development in your day? Or are there more important things you need to be doing?

There are 24 hours in a day, but it never seems to be enough for busy people. To achieve what we want to in a day, we have to become better at managing our time. It is possible to find more time in a day, or even in an hour, if you put in place some simple strategies.

Here are 7 tips for getting more done in your working day.

  1. Work to your full potential

Do you notice how you accomplish more in a few days before you’re due to head off on annual leave than what you do in the weeks prior?

This is because you’re driven to complete the tasks in time. You’re fully engaged and focused on the tasks at hand. Putting the same energy into your work every day will achieve a major boost to your productivity.

To do this, forget time-wasting activities like checking your emails and social media accounts constantly throughout the day. Turn off your phone, where possible. Scheduling large chunks of the day to the major tasks you have to complete and eliminating distractions will enable you to fully concentrate on the job at hand.

You’re more likely to finish the work in far less time than it usually takes.

  1. Complete your most important task first

Sounds simple but we can easily fall into the trap of putting off the most crucial task of the entire day. As more emails, phone messages and issues crop up, it becomes even more difficult to tackle that important task.

Instead, make it your top priority. Put it first and complete it. That way, you’ll accomplish an important task each and every day. You’ll never have an unproductive day again.

  1. Plan your work day

Keep a diary or to-do list, either on paper or in digital form such as an app, which allows you to map out your work day.

Prioritise your tasks for the day and schedule the time it will take you to complete them. Schedule in a time slot to get on top of your emails and messages and stick to it. Disconnect from emails and phone calls at all other times.

This way, you won’t be letting emails and phone calls cut into the time you’ve allocated for the work that you want to complete. Keep your to-do list up-to-date – cross off your tasks as you complete them and add new tasks as they arise. You’ll be able to see progress in your productivity and remain organised.

  1. Delegate

Delegating tasks is not a sign of weakness. The reality is that one person cannot achieve everything. Consider where you can use your employees’ capabilities and skills to your advantage. Delegate more and you’ll be able to focus your attention on other important goals.

  1. Leave time for yourself

You’ll be far more effective in your work if you also schedule in time for yourself on a regular basis – whether it’s going out for coffee or lunch or ensuring that you get to an exercise class or another personal commitment.

Block out that personal time as if it were a business appointment. The productivity of your business depends on it.

  1. Have an accountability buddy

Someone you check in with who is able to ask the hard questions on whether you’re meeting your own targets can be hugely useful. This could be an executive coach or someone you work with, for example.

  1. Use a time tracking tool

It’s easy to lose track of time when you’re swamped with work. Consider using a time tracking tool, which can ensure you know exactly how long you spend on a task.

Check out Toggl, for example. But don’t fall victim to irony in this respect and spend too much time marking how long you’re spending on things. It’s a guide, not a military operation.

2016 Rewind – Best of eLearning – Incubate Your Big Ideas

As part of our 2016 rewind, we’re taking a look at the top eLearning modules added this year. Our first looks at how to incubate your big ideas for success.

So you’ve got a big idea for your organisation. But how are you going to get support to help make it a reality? And how are you going to grow it into a successful project?

That was the thinking behind one of our most popular podcasts from September’s Career Boot Camp. Gabe Perez, Vice President – Strategy and Market Development at Coupa Software, discussed how to incubate an idea on the job, and ultimately grow it for success.

Incubate, Grow, Succeed

How can you incubate your big idea on the job? Gabe’s top tip was to forget about the size of the idea and focus on execution. Without execution, an idea is worth nothing.

Gabe expands on all of this during his podcast.

In order to get the best from your idea, you need support from senior people. And in order to get this support, you need to understand, and then convey, the value this idea will bring to the organisation. After all, it’s not worth incubating an idea unless value can be derived from it.

Gabe also argues that the problem with big ideas is that they are often difficult to execute. But if you can focus on the outcome, then you can drive support, and get people on board. Ultimately, this can help build your, and procurement’s credibility, and make it easier in the future to execute other big ideas.

You can read more from Gabe on the Procurious Blog. Also, if you missed Career Boot Camp, you can catch up with all the podcasts on the eLearning Hub. And there’s a whole lot more there to keep you interested too! Happy viewing!

2016 Rewind – Should We Stop Using the Term ‘Strategic’ in Procurement?

Our first rewind article comes courtesy of a great panel discussion at ISM2016. The debate is likely to rage on all next year too – should procurement stop referring to itself as strategic?

No other profession puts the word ‘strategic’ on their business cards. Why do we do so in procurement?

 

A high-powered panel at ISM2016 drove a spirited debate about the use of the term ‘strategic’ in the profession. Chaired by Joe Sandor (Professor of Purchasing and Supply Management, Michigan State University), the panel included:

  • Hans Melotte (ISM Board Chairman, Senior Vice-President and CPO, Johnson & Johnson);
  • R. David Nelson (procurement veteran and Chairman, Dave Nelson Group);
  • Jeff Smith (Global Sourcing Director – Indirect at DuPont); and
  • Beverly Gaskin (Executive Director Global Purchasing, General Motors).

Actions Not Words

Actions speak louder than words. That’s the message from Hans Melotte, who argued that it’s unhelpful for the profession to continually emphasise how ‘strategic’ we want to be.

Overuse of the term dilutes the concept, especially when having a conversation with sceptical stakeholders. “Procurement needs to be strategic”, says Melotte, “rather than just talk strategic.”

Being strategic comes down to having the right people in procurement, who can talk the language of the business, define their value contributions in a way that resonates with stakeholders, are forward thinking, proactive, and focused on the future.

Historical Overuse

When did procurement start to use (and overuse) this term?

R. David Nelson, who started out in an enormously different procurement landscape in 1957, has watched the profession grow from a back-office function to a highly-influential business partner.

As any modern professional knows, there are plenty of stakeholders who still remain unconvinced. It’s very possible that our constant repetition of the term was a somewhat ham-fisted attempt to convince these sceptics that we do indeed deserve a seat at the table.

Interestingly, none of the major organisations represented on the panel use the term any more. Hans Melotte explains: “At Johnson and Johnson we abandoned the use of this word, because you shouldn’t label yourself who you want to be – you should be who you are. The whole notion has passed its expiry date”.

Strategic is “Divisive Term”

The other problem with the term is that it’s divisive. By calling half the population “strategic”, you’re implying the other half of the function is non-strategic. This sends a negative signal throughout the organisation, and breeds resentment around job titles.

Beverley Gaskin agreed: “Strategic buying is like an oxymoron. If you’re doing anything in the buying field that isn’t strategic, you shouldn’t be doing it.”

Even the term “purchasing strategy”, says Gaskin, is misleading. “There’s no such thing as a purchasing strategy. There’s a company strategy and you have to understand your role in getting that done.”

The same concept appliers to how we talk about strategic and non-strategic suppliers. Again, it’s our responsibility to move away from divisive language. After all, you’re never going to tell a supplier that they’re ‘non-strategic’.

Definitions are important. Melotte reasons that if you define ‘strategic’ as something that serves the strategy – a choice wisely made, based on facts and intelligence – does that mean ‘non-strategic’ is defined as the opposite of this? No CPO would want any resources who are not aligned with the company strategy or value mission.

This isn’t to say that the term ‘tactical’ is the opposite of strategic. Professor Joe Sandor provided a valuable reminder that the word ‘strategy’ comes from the military, and simply means planning. ‘Tactic’ means execution, and a plan must be executed. Tactics, therefore, are strategy in action.

Jeff Smith of DuPont summed up the sentiment of the panel: “It’s time the profession moved away from the term”, he said. “If you behave strategically, you’ll always be invited back”.

Procurious HQ Wishes You A Very Merry Christmas!

All the team at Procurious HQ would like to wish our members a very Merry Christmas!

Christmas Day is a day for celebration (and over-indulgence!). But before we get started on the turkey, we have a message for our community.

We’d like to take this opportunity to thank our community for their great support this year. From helping to grow the network, to creating some great discussions, and sharing some great stories, we think you’re all the best!

So from all of us, to all of you and your families, we wish you a very Merry Christmas!

– Procurious HQ

Big Ideas Summit 2016: Big Idea #27 – Mastering Digital Information

The wealth of digital information available to procurement is a game changer. But only if it can make sense of it in the first place.

At the Big Ideas Summit 2016, we challenged our thought leaders to share their Big Ideas for the future of procurement.

From ideas that have the potential to change the very nature of the procurement profession, to ones that got the assembled minds thinking about the profession’s impact outside of the organisation, the response we received was amazing.

Digital Innovation & Agility

There are three major themes confronting procurement leaders and organisations – digitalisation, innovation and agility. The management of this wealth of digital information will be key in securing procurement’s future.

Giles Breault, Principal and co-Founder at The Beyond Group, discusses why procurement needs to both be more agile in this modern environment. The profession will also need make sense of big data in order to understand how it will change the management of supply chain.

Catch up with all the delegates’ Big Ideas from the 2016 Summit at the Procurious Learning Hub.

Want to find out more about Big Ideas 2016? And maybe what we have planned for 2017? You can visit our dedicated website!

If you like this (and you haven’t done so already) join Procurious for free today. Get connected with over 18,500 like-minded procurement professionals from across the world.

Beating the Procurement Drum – What’s Coming in 2017?

Procurious will continue to beat the drum for procurement in 2017. And here’s what we have planned for you all in the coming 12 months!

procurement drum beat

The traditional 12 days of Christmas might not start until the 26th of December. But this festive season, we’ll be bringing you the 12 days of procurement Christmas in the run up to the big day. Catch up with the story so far on the Procurious Blog. 

“On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…twelve Drummers Drumming.”

We’ve made it to the end of our festive procurement carol. With birds galore, rings, maids, lords and ladies, and pipers behind us, it’s time to look forward.

As we come towards the end of one year, we want to take a look at what’s coming in 2017. So, drummers and all, let’s march into the next twelve months.

Big Ideas, Big Plans

Now in its third year, The Big Ideas Summit is a unique invitation-only event for just 50 of the world’s most influential Procurement leaders. But, as ever, we’ll be inviting the Procurious community to take part as digital delegates.

If you’re new to the site, and haven’t taken part in a Summit yet, then you’re in for a treat. But first, to whet your appetite, here are the three-word Big Ideas our procurement leaders had last year:

So far for 2017, we have confirmed some big-name speakers already, as well as CPOs from a host of global organisations. We’ll have more information in January, so stay tuned!

Can’t make it to London, in person or digitally? You’ll be pleased to hear that we’re expanding our Big Ideas plans for 2017. Not only are we hosting our annual event in London in February, but we’re also planning a globe-trotting agenda for later in the year.

With topics covering risk, technology, people and careers, and innovation, there’s something (and somewhere) for everyone next year.

The Procurement Drum Beat

And if our events are enough for you, we have plenty to come on the Procurious Blog.

We’ll be continuing our Bravo series, celebrating Women in Procurement, with a series of interviews with top procurement professionals. If you’d like to get involved, join the Bravo Group, or contact Laura Ross, our Community Liaison Manager.

Not only that, after the overwhelming success of our Career Boot Camp, we’ll be running another Boot Camp during the year. If you missed out this year, you can catch up with the content on the Blog, and the podcasts here.

We also have an eBook, filled with some great content, written by Procurious Founder, Tania Seary. You can get all the information you need, and download it, right here!

Learning From Mistakes

So, as we sign off for Christmas, we’ve got one final thing to take heed of from 2016. Procurement needs to be all about learning in 2017. Learning from each other, learning new skills, and, most importantly, learning from our mistakes.

The last thing you want to do is end up on this list next year. The “World’s Worst Procurement Awards” highlights some of the biggest (and sadly, quite common) mistakes in procurement.

The good thing is, we all can learn from these mistakes and ensure our processes tick the ‘best practice’ box. If you need any guidance, then you can catch up with our festive carol on the Blog. It should point you in the right direction, and provide you with tools to drum up support for your team.

We hope you’ve enjoyed our mini-series on the 12 Days of Procurement Christmas. It’s been fun to write, so we hope you’ve got something from it. If you have any questions or comments, then please feel free to get in touch with the team.

Throwback Thursday – Who Gives a Tweet?

Why should you ‘give a tweet’? When it comes to getting your message across, there are a billion reasons to.

who gives a tweet

This article was first published on taniaseary.com. All facts and figures are correct as of the original publication date.

If you’re anything like my husband, you’ve done your very best to avoid being “poked”, “tweeted” or “linked” up until this point. And to be honest, I was in the same camp until my team convinced me of the compelling business reasons to “get social”.

You’ve probably heard all the stats about social media:

  • Facebook (which has just turned 10) would be the third largest country in the world with over a billion users;
  • Twitter has 288 million monthly active users, who send over 400 million tweets per day; and
  • LinkedIn sees two new users sign up every second.

The world’s largest “tweeters” have millions of followers. The singer Katy Perry has the largest number of “followers” with over 50 million hanging on her every tweet.

And while none of the CPOs I know are currently preparing to promote the release of their next album to their followers, there are a number of business reasons for you to start considering twitter, along with all the other social media vehicles, as part of your communication strategy.

Finding Your Voice

Anyone following me on Twitter (@taniaseary) will see that I’m an absolute novice and haven’t really yet “found my voice” in this new medium.  Mostly, I report on celebrities I’ve run into. In the last month this has included Robbie Williams, Liz Hurley, Sir David Attenborough, Princess Anne, and Philip Mould (who features in the television show Antiques Roadshow and Fake or Fortune).

On the Saturday morning when Robbie Williams “retweeted” my tweet his 1000+ followers, I started to understand the power of this new medium. Albeit, I was momentarily a commentator in the entertainment industry, rather than the procurement profession to which I belong, but nonetheless, a worthwhile experiment.

In a subsequent test, I sent a tweet about my professional association (CIPS) securing Cherie Blair as a guest speaker. They retweeted it to their near 4,500 followers.

So, now I was a commentator in my own profession. Mmm…getting warmer! I started to understand the power of this medium for communicating, and potentially influencing, your target audience.

So, even though I’m just starting to tweet, I can already see three business reasons why my CPO friends should consider using twitter.

1. Attracting the next generation of commercial leaders

If you believe the research, the next generation of talent – the so-called ‘millennials’ and ‘digital natives’ – have lost confidence in traditional hierarchical corporate structures. They are more likely to choose their next job based on how they rate their boss, over the company they are going to work for.

They will base their opinion not on your title, but on word of mouth, social groups, strong connections, and online presence. So the lesson from this is that to relate to and recruit the best talent, you need to have a strong presence in those places where your talent is talking. And there is no doubt that the next wave of talent is online.

2. Influencing your internal stakeholders and business customers

In terms of personal visibility to suppliers, your team and your management, social media is a great place to get noticed, as well as to reinforce your position as a connected business thinker.

The rapid pace of change has made staying ‘front of mind’ tricky.  Remember, by being active on social media, especially now while procurement is still underrepresented online, you’re establishing yourself as a thought leader in the profession.

You may ask, “but is my CEO really reading social media?”. While they might not be trawling status updates, they are undoubtedly being briefed daily by Corporate Affairs, who monitor and feed trends to the C-level to help tailor their communications.

3. Becoming a customer of choice with your supply base

Marketers have been using social media to connect with customers for years. Although the reverse – using social media to connect with suppliers – is still in its infancy, be assured that savvy sales executives are scanning LinkedIn, Twitter and other platforms to understand your industry (and you as a customer) better.

The Faculty’s 2013 Roundtable research Future-Ready highlighted that use of social media in procurement is still a blind-spot for the profession. The research goes on to recommend that “as a facilitator of connections across the organisation…Procurement should take the lead in the use of online networks….for example setting up a private group for the supplier network to discuss ideas and engage with the organisation.”

Finding Your Feet

So, if you are convinced of the business reasons to use social media, how should you, as a CPO, use these new communication channels?

While I am by no means an expert on the matter, I have been advised by some pretty smart cookies as to the ins and outs of the social space. I’ll now try to relay some of their best tips to you.

  • What are the topics that only you can talk about?

This is probably the toughest part to getting started. What do you have to say that is unique, and who will be interested? This is the biggest hurdle to getting started.

Every CPO I know has a unique vantage point from which they are gathering really interesting information, unique to the industry, communities and businesses they work in.

Recognise your unique position and share some of the amazing learnings and insights that come your way. Believe me, there are very few people with this wealth of information flowing their way every day.

  • Start “following” people you admire and respect

See what they comment on and how they communicate.  This will provide you both inspiration and direction.

  • Don’t overwhelm yourself

Master one medium, whichever you feel most comfortable with (generally LinkedIn is the easiest first step), and become actively engaged with that audience. After starting with LinkedIn, I moved onto a blog (try WordPress or Blogger). And just last month I made my first foray into Twitter.

  • Try to plan ahead

Not everyone can spend countless hours a day on Facebook or Twitter. Fortunately for us there are tools (such as HootSuite or TweetDeck) that allow you to ‘schedule’ social posts.

This means you can spend a few hours every month writing updates, and then spread them out over the month. I told you it doesn’t have to be hard!

  • Social means social not selling!

The reason social media is quickly overtaking traditional media is because it allows people to interact with each other. Instead of simply talking at people, get involved in the discussions that are happening everywhere online. Your credibility will only increase.

Why Give a Tweet?

At the end of the day, why are we doing all this? What’s the point?

The point is that you need to keep on increasing your influence.  Influence is the ability to drive action. CPOs are all about driving action, activity, delivering change and response to the 360 degree audiences that surround them.

When you share something on social media, or in real life, and people respond, that’s influence.