Tag Archives: social media

How To Skyrocket Your Influence In 2 Steps

Step away from the emoji button. Read on to learn how to build genuine influence in your personal brand. Learn to move beyond the micro engagements of liking and sharing. Be bold and brave – expand your connections and network by following our pro tips.


Mirror mirror on the wall

While browsing idly through social media recently I concluded that many of my peers have confused visibility with influence. Procurement is a small industry especially if you’re in a niche field or a small country. What makes this contracted market even smaller is that we stare into our own reflection. 

Seek to expand not reinforce the bubble 

Commenting, liking, gaining followers and profiling only those within your bubble only serves to reinforce the echo chamber that you reside in. Expansion and growth should be the aim of the game and that’s the trick that many are missing!

Number of likes and connections is not influence

All the chat about the importance of “raising your profile” has seen many people reach for the emoji button. They equate visibility and these micro engagements with achieving influence. I’ve even heard some peers brag about it “mate did you see my pic? Got 12 likes, brilliant ay? I’m raising my profile and building influence.” Um no, but I’m glad people liked your photo.

Sure, visibility will get your name out there and you’ll make connections but just like the platforms we use in our personal life, professional networking sites can create a trap for the uninitiated. They offer so much more than just how many followers you have!

Untapped potential

Think about how you engage online, do you make the most of all opportunities?

  • Chance to connect with and observe thought leaders
  • Expand your learning beyond your sector and follow other industry trends
  • Grow your knowledge of different areas within your technical field
  • Expand your support base by utlising online connections
  • Taking part in free webinars

Check out these tips to ensure you are getting the most out of your Procurious experience!

Fear stops meaningful engagement and expansion

Platforms where personal profiles are created on a “work self” image can fuel the fire if people view their professional / work self as separate to their “real life” self. On professional networking sites people can struggle to make genuine comments, challenge / ask questions or engage meaingfully for fear of looking dumb or speaking out of turn.

It’s such a lost opportunity! Don’t be afraid to be yourself, engage and connect with people.

What is influence and why care?

Influence is earned and grows over time. The difference between visibility and influence is that with a focus on your sphere of influence and who you engage with, you are building longevity and sustainability into your personal brand and therefore your career. You are thinking beyond your immediate role or even career.

There are many studies out there that have shown that people will change their careers significantly two or three times over the course of their lives, as described in this NY Times article.

How to get started

Hold up, I hear you… how on earth and am I meant to do that?

Start the same way everyone else does but don’t limit your professional networking to just likes, commenting and growing your connections. Keep your eye on the bigger prize.

Step one: getting started

  1. Join an accredited membership organisation like CIPS or IACCM. There are usually many ways to get involved and connect with lots of people through these avenues. This provides a supportive environment to get involved in chairing committees and speaking / hosting events.
  1. Awards. Keep an eye out for industry awards, nominate your team or yourself! I’ve seen some surprise winners – the only thing that set them apart from others was that they simply backed themselves and applied.
  1. Network. Don’t simply add just people on social media, if you do send an invitation add a note and make sure it’s relevant to something they just posted or wrote about. Think of people in your industry, can you reach out to any of them for a coffee chat? And then ask, who else do you think might be of value for me to connect with?
  1. Content. Remember the dictionary definition of influence: “the capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behaviour of someone or something, or the effect itself.” what content are you producing or contributing to that is building impact?

Step two: grow

Use your network of genuine connections to try and find ways to get involved in different projects and start expanding your reach.

  • Offer to mentor someone
  • Offer to host an event at your organisation
  • Ask for speaking opportunities
  • Write your own blog on an existing platform or your own profile
  • Connect with people through the content you’re consuming e.g procurious webinars and groups!
  • Ask to shadow a senior for a day to learn what they do
  • Talk to your suppliers and learn the other side of the fence
  • Learn from other sectors and follow other thought leaders for inspiration
  • Find someone you admire and see if you can unpick what makes them tick. You can check out Kelly Barner’s journey for some inspo
  • Think about yourself as a brand, what do you want to be known for?

Take the plunge! Expand your connections beyond micro engagements and you will add sustainability and longevity to your personal brand. 

Remember: be yourself, be humble and be authentic.

Picture source: www.brenebrown.com

How To Get Ahead While Working From Home

Putting yourself out there is more difficult in a Work From Home environment, but by maintaining a strong social media presence, expanding your network online, volunteering your ideas and services and harvesting good feedback regarding your work, your presence and value can be felt beyond the WFH setting.


It’s a truth of working life that it’s not enough to be good at your job to get ahead. You also need “exposure”, to be able to network both inside and outside your organisation, and to be visible to those dishing out the stretch assignments and opportunities.

With many of us now working from home much more regularly and for the foreseeable future (in the UK, the Royal Bank of Scotland recently informed staff that they would be working from home until 2021), how can you ‘be seen’ when you haven’t seen anyone outside of a Zoom call for months? Without your boss’s boss dropping by your desk for a quick chat, how can you let them know that you’ve been smashing it?

Here are some tips to consider if you want to get ahead while working from home…

Be visible

As working from home becomes more normalised (rather than the ‘trying to work from home during a pandemic’ that we’ve all been experiencing to date), think about how you can remain visible to those that matter. This doesn’t mean ‘digital presenteeism’ (hello, sending 11pm emails…) but rather keeping yourself on people’s radar. Be sure to speak up in meetings and Q&A sessions. Continue to post on your organisation’s internal and external social media channels. Keeping your head down and getting the job done won’t get you ahead.

Network

Just because we can’t see each other in person, doesn’t mean you can’t spend some time on strengthening and growing your networks. Attend those relationship-building virtual drinks with colleagues – or why not set up your own? Connect with those whose opinions you value and who you can learn from over a virtual coffee. Give public kudos and praise to your co-workers (when deserved of course). If you’re serious about your progression, why not seek out a mentor? You can develop a mentoring relationship just as successfully virtually as you can in person. If you think you want to move on soon, develop relationships with recruiters and headhunters, and keep those relationships alive even if you are not looking to move soon.

Keep a record of your success

Procurement and supply professionals have been doing some stellar work during the COVID-19 crisis. Make sure you keep a record of your successes and positive feedback from colleagues, suppliers, clients and other stakeholders. Doing so serves several purposes. It can help you build a case for internally promotion, pay rises and progression. It can help you quickly update your CV when you decide it’s time to move on. And – not to be overlooked – it can help boost your self-confidence if you’re having a bad day or feeling wobbly before an important meeting.

Put yourself forward

If you don’t ask for something, you don’t get it. If there are internal opportunities, such as getting involved with special projects, stretch assignments or joining high potential development programmes, don’t wait to be asked to join. This is particularly important for home workers who otherwise might be overlooked for opportunities. Make sure you keep your ear to the ground so you hear about these opportunities when they arise. And don’t be afraid to create your own. We are heading into a period of immense global disruption. It’s scary, but it also creates opportunity. If you have an innovative idea, pitch it to your boss. What’s the worst that could happen?

Of course, while there are career management strategies individuals can try, this is a bigger issue that relies so much on company culture. Organisations need to be alert to the risk of ‘in’ and ‘out’ groups developing, discriminating against those with caring responsibilities, most likely to be women, or health conditions that prevent them heading back to the office.

Leaders need to carefully consider how to manage career progression in an age of remote working and managers need to learn how to manage by outcomes rather than presenteeism (digital or otherwise). Think about issues like running inclusive hybrid meetings: does it make more sense for everyone to dial in separately if even one person isn’t there in person? Can you invest in technology (like ‘The Meeting Owl’) to create a more inclusive and frictionless meeting experience for everyone, whether they are in the room or not?

When it comes to getting ahead remotely, perhaps the most powerful thing you could do is to take the initiative in suggesting new and more inclusive ways of working. The pandemic has proven that for many roles, where you do them has little to do with impact or productivity. We all now need to play a part in ensuring that isn’t forgotten as we move into the ‘new normal’.

What do you think? Comment below!

Who Has Influence And How Do You Get More Of It?

Influence comes in all forms and from a variety of different sources. But, in the digital age, is the nature of influence changing? And how might it change further over the next few years?


What does influence look like in your life? Who are the main influencers? Depending on a great number of factors, including your values, norms, gender, race and age (amongst many others), the people who have influenced your life to this point represent a very diverse cross-section of society. And it’s likely that these influencers will change over the course of your lifetime.

How people find and consume information has changed drastically in the past decade. The relentless growth of social media and digital channels for data, news and opinion has provided new sources for people to use. This has, in turn, led to the growth of digital and social media ‘influencers’, all of whom offer something slightly different and command a different audience.

In this series of articles, I’ll look at what influence is and who the influencers are in the digital age and why this might seem paradoxical. I’ll cover the notion that the power of influencers may be on the wane, before concluding by looking at the divergence of this versus procurement influencers, and how procurement can leverage this thinking to grow influence in the right places.

The Context

There has been plenty written about influence in the past (including articles here on Procurious), including looking at how individuals can measure and increase their own. To provide a bit of context for the whole series, first we need to provide some definitions on our key terms.

The Cambridge English dictionary defines ‘influence’ as, “the power to have an effect on people or things, or a person or thing that is able to do this”. When we consider influence in our lives, what does this look like? It could be things we read, see and engage with on a day-to-day basis, or something that resonates with us.

Influences are usually delivered or underpinned by an ‘influencer’ – “someone who affects or changes the way that other people behave”. In our lives, this could be anyone from parents, family and friends, to colleagues, peers, celebrities and/or global figures.

It could be argued that this definition is more traditional, yet not necessarily outdated. In the digital age, the term might be better defined as, “a person with the ability to influence potential buyers of a product or service by promoting or recommending the items on social media”. We might not all be consuming a product, but the influence is there nonetheless.

What does this mean for individual people and how they are influenced? Is it changing the nature of influence? This is still up for debate.

The Changing Influence Environment

Consider the public’s consumption of information 50 years ago. This is long before the advent of the Internet and 24/7 connectivity and long before social media was even first considered. There was the print media and the original three channels on the TV. What seemed like a broad spectrum at the time now looks very narrow.

Influencers at this time would probably have been local or national, rather than international. The range would have been limited to those people who were well-known, who appeared on TV or radio frequently and were considered as experts in their fields. We’re talking here about politicians, celebrities, businesspeople or personalities.

In 2020, we have a world of information at our fingertips all hours of the day and night. We can connect with individuals in all walks of life, discussing and sharing about more topics than we could think of. These new influencers are freely accessed on social media and can create a large-scale, global audience fairly easily (comparatively to 50 years ago anyway).

News, Media & Video

The changing nature of how we consume media and content has enabled more individuals to gain traction in the social media environment. YouTube is a massively popular platform for the new generation of influencers. Ad sales alone in 2019 generated $4.7 billion (£3.62 billion) for parent company Alphabet.

It’s easy to see why when research shows that two-thirds of Millennials prefer YouTube to traditional television, and that there are over 1 billion hours of online content viewed daily. For an individual to get started, all they need is a computer, a social media account, a camera and/or microphone, some basic editing skills and a ‘hook’.

It better be a good ‘hook’ though – 20 per cent of social media users admit that they will stop watching a video if it hasn’t hooked them in the first 10 seconds.

For influencers this means that they need to know how to attract and retain their audience, but also produce quality content. For some, it will be enough to share their knowledge. Others will only gain a small audience, or a larger audience over a longer period. But a minority will gain thousands of followers quickly, and become recognisable ‘influencers’.

Social Media – Gen Z’s World?

Which brings us to our individuals and influencers-to-be. On social media, they are categorised in three groups:

  1. Micro influencers – offer authority on a specific and narrow niche, generally with smaller audiences (10,000 people or less). They can be a useful group for marketers as they are more affordable and have higher levels of engagement.
  2. Power middle influencers – have audiences ranging for 10,000-250,000 people and likely already have experience working with brands.
  3. Macro influencers – these are the digital celebrities on social media, with an audience of over 250,000 people. Their potential reach is huge, but they are more costly for marketers and have a lower engagement rate.

If celebrities make up a large percentage of the ‘macro’ influencers, then we can consider the ‘power middle’ as the new generation of influencers. And this new generation is largely made up of younger Millennials or Gen Z (those born since 1997). In 2018, the top 10 highest earners on YouTube were all, apart from 2, under 30.

The highest earner was Ryan Kaji, who stars in the ‘Ryan’s World’ channel, with earnings of $22 million. He’s 8 years old. It’s no wonder that children and teenagers galore think that being an influencer is a career route they want to take.

Does this then give credence to the idea that the world of social media and digital influence belongs to Gen Z? It’s an interesting question that provides us with an interesting paradox.

A Matter of Gravitas? Or Consumption?

If influence in the past has been related to experience, knowledge, gravitas and global renown (not necessarily traits only found in older people), then how is there more prominence for younger influencers despite having (theoretically) less to offer?

Consider this list of the “must know” influencers in 2019. You could argue that older generations are being squeezed out of influencer circles in the digital world. This could easily be linked to how younger generations consume their media and content. You could also argue that, in the digital world, there is room for all to exist. An older generation of influencers could attract an older generation of followers, assuming these followers consume their content digitally.

However, this generation may already have missed the boat as social media influence shifts again. As the digital world continues to evolve, so does the nature of influence and its perception. So, is this generation too late? Or could they stand to benefit just as much as the game changes again? We’ll cover this and more in the next article in this series.

To hear from top procurement influencers, be sure to join up and be part of the Procurious network. With 37,000 members, this is the place to gain knowledge and insights into the latest procurement and supply chain matters.

Email Marketing – July the 4th Be With You!

Planning your next holiday email marketing campaign and struggling to stand out? Here are some top tips to help you steal the show.

Photo by Stephanie McCabe on Unsplash

Holiday email marketing campaigns can make or break a business. A study by Experian performed a couple of years ago shows that emails promoting special offers and incentives sent during the two weeks before the 4th of July resulted in dramatically increased open and transaction rates.

The best rated strategies included the following in subject lines: free shipping, vouchers and other cash incentives, 4th of July discounts and coupons, and 4th of July clearance sales.

Here is a prime example from Nasty Gal:

Email Marketing – A Strategy for Every Business

There are a number of approaches. The best one depends on the sender, the offer and the message a business wants to send across. First of all, it is important to remember that this particular holiday appeals to people’s patriotism. 

Contrary to popular belief, Americans tend to spend a lot ahead of the holiday. According to the National Retail Federation, people spend considerable amounts of money on food, clothing, party props and décor. The percentage stands at 93 per cent for young people aged 18 to 24. If your business caters to younger audiences, there is definitely room for increased transaction rates around the holiday. 

Even if that is not the case, a proper strategy will inspire customers to consider the offer. Coupled with the above-mentioned incentives, a clever marketing campaign will offer a little something to everyone. Here are some ideas on how to go about the 4th of July email marketing campaigns.

Animate the Audience

Holidays do tend to inspire partying, so adding animation to the emails is a good choice of action. A picture featuring fireworks or similar will boost the mood and make your offer more tempting. Here is an example from Nicole Miller:

Other examples may come to mind; remember to be creative and keep it cheerful.

Focus on the Holiday Mood

Holidays are fun, and the 4th of July is no exception. In fact, it may well be the most cheerful holiday nowadays. Whether spent with family or friends (or both), people focus on good times. It is, therefore, recommended to appeal to the atmosphere by creating fun emails. Rover did it brilliantly:

Be creative and humorous and look for ways to link the message to the offer.  

Stress on Patriotism

To appeal to overall patriotism, many campaigns fly the American flag. If you find it too generic, trust your brand’s specialty to add some zest to the offer. Here’s how Sperry nailed it:

Highlighting patriotic products is also a good idea. M&M did a splendid job with that with their 4th of July edition candies.

That isn’t to say that you need to create special themed products for the occasion, though. You may simply plaster the offer onto the American flag and get creative with the fireworks around it.

Things to Keep in Mind

The 4th of July is an American holiday and the biggest one next to Thanksgiving. If your business is international, do your homework with segmentation. Sending promotional offers to people outside of the U.S. would be a waste of effort and money, so focus on the target audience.

Further out, the 4th of July falls closely to Father’s Day and Memorial Day. You may easily kill two birds with one stone if you couple the offers. On top of it, sending too many emails too frequently is more likely to annoy the recipients than to inspire them, so use the opportunity to combine multiple offers into one email.

If you have a physical store, don’t forget to include business hours and the services offered around and during the holiday. It’s also important to include information on holiday shipping and delivery deadlines.

Finally, remember that the best of the best campaigns tell a unique story. It is not all about the offer. On the contrary, statistics show that people tend to remember the stories rather than the offer, especially if they are emotionally charged. Sharing an experience and showing the heroes being rewarded is what people will relate to the most. Adding a video or a promo campaign ahead of the holiday will keep customers connected to your brand and keep them coming back for a long while.

Piggyback Existing #Hashtags

To boost the outreach, don’t shy away from social media. Use the hashtags such as #4thofjuly and #fireworks to reach a larger audience and follow up with personalized email messages. Remember that younger generations are the key to your 4th of July campaign. Primarily, they use Snapchat and Instagram, with somewhat lesser percentage sticking to Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

Add an additional giveaway or two to attract more people. Some ideas include giveaways and social media photo competitions. The more interesting the offer, the more people will share the post. Photo competitions are known to go viral, if done the right way. Use your imagination and may, well July, the 4th be with you!

3 Ways To Amplify The Profile Of Your Procurement Team

Influence expert Julie Masters demonstrates how online employee advocacy can supercharge the amplification and cut-through of your procurement content.

By Africa Studio/ Shutterstock

While we’re all searching for the latest and greatest way to get our company and brand out there, you might be surprised to find one of the most effective and underutilised methods sitting right under your nose.

Employee advocacy, where employees share company content and stories about what they’re doing at the office and the projects they’re working on, is now seen by some as the holy grail of content marketing.

Compared to the traditional method of sending out communication on social channels via the ‘company account’, employee advocates are shown to have exponential reach and have far more trust in the marketplace than a company or brand ever could.

MSL Group has shown that brand messages shared through personal social media accounts are re-shared 24 times more than when that same content is posted by the brand itself.

The reach is also substantially more via an employee network. Recent studies show that if you were to add together the contacts of all the employees in your company, that network would be 600 times larger than the network of the company itself.

According to the Edelman Trust Barometer, those surveyed were also twice as likely to trust communication from an employee than the CEO themselves.

These factors make employee advocates a significantly more powerful amplifier than a single channel of communication from the company or brand could ever reach alone.

And it’s not always about gathering more ‘Likes’ or having a positive public persona.

Nearly 10 years ago, IBM managed to harness the power of employee advocacy to show how it could translate directly to the bottom line.

Back in 2008, and faced with one of the largest recessions they had seen, the marketing team at IBM launched the “Smarter Planet” campaign.

The campaign was designed to explain how a new generation of intelligent systems (the Internet of Things) and technologies could be put to use for profound impact and to encourage further thinking.

Rather than lean on an advertising agency to create the message via the traditional mediums, the team at IBM peopled these ads with the company’s own employees.

They went deep into the organisation to uncover the stories, expertise, knowledge, and insights that were held by specialists who already worked at IBM.

They shone a light on the people who worked with them – from master inventors down to systems engineers.

But they didn’t stop there.

IBM also asked their customers to partner with them, shining a light on the customers own technological challenges and aspirations live on camera.

The result was nothing short of extraordinary, with IBM’s own employees and customers amplifying the campaign exponentially, rocketing IBM’s share price by 64% that year (against a market average in their space of 14%) and generating $3 billion in additional revenue.

This is a great example of the power of employee advocacy, the power of storytelling and shining a light on the amazing work that was being done within IBM.

But having employees enthusiastic to talk to others about the work they do, let alone share it on social media, can be easier said than done. Current data indicates that only 3% of employees currently engage in advocacy for their own company.

Clearly employees aren’t rushing over themselves to advocate for their company and there a number of hurdles that need to be overcome to really gain traction and make it a success.

1. Set boundaries but stay flexible

While there are hundreds of stories online about employees being sacked or disciplined for an ill-advised post on social media, the good news is that many of those posts were inappropriate by most standards.

In a work environment where mistakes can have severe consequences, it’s understandable that employees can be nervous about posting content that is considered ‘appropriate’ for the company.

A social media policy that is clear enough to stay within company guidelines but flexible enough to allow personalities to shine through can be a good start to lifting employee engagement around company activities.

Having designated communication ambassadors within each team – those who have a passion and talent for social sharing – can also be a good strategy for sharing and generating quality content around company activity if it’s not suitable for all.

2. Stay curious and dig for gold

One reason employees may not actively post company content is that they think what they do isn’t interesting to others.

This is often a mistaken view, as what may seem familiar and uninteresting to some are just as likely to be fascinating to others who value an insight into the working life of a procurement pro.

This could be anything from case studies to project experiences to “a day in the life” examples – anything that gives insight into the unique experiences that the company undertakes and is involved with.

And don’t forget, social posts are just one piece of the mosaic being created online which shows a vibrant, active team that others will want to investigate and join.

3. Get buy-in to amplify results

The third reason people avoid sharing company content is that employees only prefer to share information about projects in which they’ve had personal ownership or ‘co-created’.

As we saw in the IBM example though, a well-crafted theme that threads an inspiring idea throughout the whole organisation can be enough to band together otherwise unrelated departments and activities.

Drawing on the underlying ‘why’ that inspires your procurement team to do what they do, or championing a cause that is close to the heart of your company can be enough to drive your team to want to share what they do with the outside world.

So what does that mean for your team?

It’s clear to see that employee advocates can be a powerful way to build the company message in the marketplace, provided there is support from the top that allows a more democratic form of communication.

It doesn’t always have to be about the wins either.

Using social media to amplify important company changes can be equally effective – if it might otherwise be missed through the traditional office channels or intranet.

If there is a whole team of procurement professionals and stakeholders enthusiastically spruiking the benefits of the change, your message is much more likely to have cut-through.

Similarly, if individual members of your procurement team make the effort to share stories about their challenges, successes and day-to-day work, this can also serve to build up an online profile of your organisation that will make your team visible and attractive to top talent as well.

As a bottom line – what IBM learnt in 2008, and what we still know now – is that the most impactful form of communication is human stories. Preferably told by real, passionate people with a clear intention to drive things forward.

Identify those people in your team – bring them on board – give them clear boundaries – and then cheer them from the sidelines for having the courage to contribute.

Now that’s a procurement team with influence.

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The Three Keys To Building More Influence

How are you letting perfection get in the way of offering an important (and influential) contribution?  

By Rawpixel.com /Shutterstock

Have you ever wondered why some people are able to lead and influence those around them while others are left out in the cold?

They may be less charismatic, a poor presenter or frightfully timid, yet they influenced the other party enough to move them through to a decision where perhaps you couldn’t?

In many cases, the element that stood them apart from the crowd was nothing more than trust – trust that that person was genuine, capable and had the integrity to stand by their word.

Confucius said: “Better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without”. Voltaire wrote: “Perfect is the enemy of good”.

In decades past, huge fortunes were made by organisations that understood this. Companies like General Electric, Westinghouse and Ford Motor Company all dominated their respective fields through this principle.

Very little has changed since those days – despite the increasing sophistication of advertising and corporate shine. The Nielsen Global Online Consumer Survey claims that only 33% of people now trust brands, while 90% of people trust service or individual recommendations directly from people they ‘feel’ they know.

I want you to pay attention to that last part – ‘feel they know’. What does it take to feel you know someone?

In my world that’s called influence. It involves sharing enough of yourself so that I trust your intent. It involves stepping out and letting your voice be heard. Having the courage to leave the jargon behind – and share real insights, predictions and opportunities based on the hard yards of your experience.

Those who can build this level of connection – either online or in your organisation – generate more engagement, have a greater impact on decision-making, a more frequent seat at the table and face less opposition when it comes to implementing change.

So how do we do it?

More process, less perfect

If the average social media feed – or corporate presentation – were to be believed, just about every single one of us would look like we’re a) getting the perfect results b) enjoying an endless cycle of tropical beach holidays, or c) tucking into the world’s best meal in the fanciest restaurant in town.

If we’re looking to create real engagement, a ‘polished and perfect’ image just won’t cut it.

It takes courage to show vulnerability and let people know that our results and lives aren’t always perfect (and therefore we aren’t always perfect). And yet – here’s the irony. That’s exactly the most impactful thing we can reveal.

Show me a mistake you made – and I will know you have the courage to pick yourself back up when things go wrong – the curiosity to get to the bottom of what doesn’t work – and the tenacity to keep going until a better solution is found.

Tell me about a question you haven’t been able to answer yet – and I will feel invited to contribute – impressed by your determination to always get better – and connected in the shared vulnerability of not knowing it all.

Essentially – I will feel something. As opposed to the disconnection we are often left with when only someone’s ‘best moments’ are shared.

Be intentional and capable

While we don’t want to portray a picture-perfect image, that doesn’t mean that we should be showing up looking tired, unprofessional or underprepared either.

If our goal is to build trust and influence others then it’s far more effective to be intentional, and to reveal those intentions to our target audience, rather than flounder around without direction.

We need to show that we’re capable of handling the challenges that are thrown at us. We might make mistakes along the way, but we also need to make it crystal clear that we have a clear direction about how we will move forward despite setbacks.

Talking about what is important to us, the ideas behind our intentions, the experiences that led us to those ideas and our goals for the future – these are the traits of trusted leaders.

Take us on a journey

If you’ve been working on your project for weeks and had to scrap the whole concept and start again with a new approach, write about it!

Create a monthly update for your team or stakeholders. Start a blog. Let your audience know that you are there to out-contribute everyone else in your field. That you’re willing to share what you’ve learnt, and as a result the future trends, opportunities or challenges you see coming in your field.

They’ll appreciate the fact that you’re letting them follow your journey – and will value the end result infinitely more if they know your history and feel involved in the process along the way.

It also gives them more exposure to you as a person, and the longer they keep you in their lives, the more likely they are to trust you.

Many project managers make the mistake of keeping their project under wraps until it’s 100% complete – and ready to reveal to their organisation with a big fanfare.

The problem with that plan is that the audience hasn’t been taken along on the journey – so the end-product they’re presented with fails to get any attention. A little like watching the final five minutes of a movie and trying to care about the characters or plot!

So – what’s the bottom line?

I want you to take a step back from any place where perfection is currently holding you back. From engagement, from sharing your mastery, experience or insights. From essentially stepping out and actually being seen.

Then I want you to ask yourself these questions – what passionately imperfect contribution could I make here? How am I hiding behind technical language and not revealing the real story or opportunity? How can I invite others to contribute and engage with the outcome?

Do those things – and I promise you will significantly increase your influence (and results) in all the places where it counts. J

Best of the Procurious Blog – Procurement In 7 Memes

They say a picture tells a thousand words. How about a procurement meme?

Okay, millennials. Strap yourselves in, because I’m going to attempt to meme. Is meme even a verb? Perhaps not, but that isn’t going to stop me.

For older readers who don’t really know (or care) what memes are, don’t worry – I’ve got you covered. Whether it’s Bad Luck Brian, Kermit Sipping Tea, or King Leonidas screaming “SPARTA”, I’ll attempt to add a bit of context around the meme before applying a Procurement gripe to each.

1. Boromir Demurs

Rivendell; Middle Earth. The mood is tense. Gandalf has brought together a motley crew of humans, elves, dwarves and hobbits to discuss how best to destroy the One Ring, which has to that point proven impervious to both magical and physical force. A solution is put forward – take the ring to the enemy realm of Mordor and throw it into the volcanic fires of Mount Doom. At this point, the human warrior Boromir makes his most famous speech of the film, beginning with the words “One does not simply walk into Mordor…”

Since The Fellowship of the Ring, Boromir (Sean Bean) has become a meme, trotted out as a retort whenever someone suggests something that’s impractical, unrealistic, or simply a bad idea.

Here’s my procurement take:

Amirite? (Am I right?) This is Procurement 101 stuff – a company that selects its suppliers based solely on the cheapest quote will inevitably run into risk and quality issues. And besides, if that’s the strategy, then you might as well set up an e-auction system that automatically selects the cheapest bidder, then dispense with the procurement function altogether. Which brings us to…

2. Bad Luck Brian

Poor Brian. This high-schooler in his plaid vest and braces never gets a break. The meme generally follows the formula “[Brian does something positive … something terrible happens”]. For example:

“Spends all night studying … sleeps through exam”

“Only Facebook friend is mum …. cyberbullied”

“Wins a free cruise … on the Titanic”

From a procurement viewpoint:

Procurement professionals LOVE robotic process automation. Think of all those humans doing repetitive tasks at your organisation that could just as well be done by a robot. It’s a cost-saving no-brainer, right? Bring in the bots! Great idea – until it happens to you.

3. American Chopper Argument

Stills of row between father and son from the reality show American Chopper have recently become internet hits. The meme format lends itself well to any internet argument – whether it’s a discussion about the best pizza toppings, or a protracted “debate” in an academic journal.

For my text, I’ve taken an excellent debate from the Procurious Discussion section about reporting on Cost Avoidance. Check it out:


4. More American Chopper

I could do this all day … here’s another debate from the Discussion section, this time on Decentralised vs Centre-Led Procurement:


5. Distracted Boyfriend

This has to be my favourite meme of all due to its simplicity. A man walking down the street turns to leer after a woman walking past while his girlfriend stares at him with an appalled look on her face.

In procurement land:

We’re about more than cost savings!! Really!

I’ve heard this sad story again and again. Procurement professionals are eager to show their organisations that they’re more than a one-trick pony. We talk about how we can improve operational efficiency, bring in CSR & social procurement initiatives such as fighting modern slavery, and even generate top-line growth, but it’s incredibly disheartening when the boss (usually a CFO) only cares about one thing… cost savings.

6. Leonidas Goes Nuts

The film 300, a retelling of the Battle of Thermopylae in the Persian Wars, contains a gem of a scene where the Spartan King Leonidas loses his patience after being threatened and insulted by a Persian envoy. The envoy, suddenly in fear of his life, says “This is madness” before Leonidas responds with: “This is SPARTA” – and kicks him down a well. It’s an intense moment, as the Spartans know that the murder of the envoy makes war inevitable.

I’m really not advocating the murder of suppliers, but there are moments when you do have to remind them of the terms of a contract.

 

7. Kermit The Frog looks smug

This meme is particularly useful if you want to be facetious. Kermit the frog, calmly sipping a glass of Lipton tea, has lent himself to many a captioned meme ending with the phrase “… but that’s none of my business”.

As procurement professionals continue to wage their endless struggle against maverick spend, we inevitably have a lot of “I told you so” moments when an unapproved supplier turns out to be a disaster. Along comes Kermit…

Data: You Complete Me

AI has the potential to shoulder a vast amount of the #procurement workload. But machines can only do the work for you if you capture all the data in the first place.
Last month Procurious hosted the very first Procurement Thought Leadership Forum in Chicago to discuss the evolution of procurement; what the future holds for the profession; how we can effectively determine the size of the global market; the importance of professional associations and maturity levels across the globe. 
The event, sponsored by Basware and attended by a number of the world’s leading procurement consultants, sparked some fascinating discussion and debate.

Dealing with Data

Remember that Tom Cruise movie – Minority Report? Eric Wilson, SVP Basware North America, certainly does. “In the movie Tom Cruise swipes things on a giant screen, he then predicts a crime and the team prevents it before it happens. It was pretty cool. Especially, back in 2002 when we didn’t even have touch screens on our cell phones and artificial intelligence (AI) was in the realm of science fiction.”

Of course, today we all use AI in our daily lives, whether we realise it or not. As Eric asserts “AI is the new electricity. When we replaced steam powered machines with those using electricity, we transformed transportation, manufacturing, agriculture, healthcare and so on; increasing efficiency tremendously.  AI has the same, huge potential, but nobody truly knows yet how it will change the world.”

Indeed, as  Eric pointed out it’s difficult to think of an industry that is not being impacted by AI;  IT, FinTech and Healthcare, to name just a few, are all being totally transformed. Self driving vehicles is an industry that is built entirely on AI.

But holding the right data is critical in order to harness the benefits of new technologies. If an organisation can turn all the data they hold into tangible customer value by leveraging machine learning and AI they can actually begin to benefit from these technological advances in the market. But to do so relies on having the right volume, quality and completeness of data .

“If you don’t have a view to the future when you are evaluating automation options, not only will you not achieve your business case for today, but three years from now, your system will be obsolete,” states Eric.  “It will be obsolete because it did not capture all of the data in the first place.”

In Eric’s mind there are no two ways about it: you can’t use AI if you don’t have the centralised data for those machines to learn from. “And so, my key takeaway now and always is: when you are putting together your RFPs for systems, data better be first and foremost on your mind!”

The conversation century

Elizabeth Linder, Founder and CEO of The Conversational Century joined Youtube in 2007 and often thinks back to that year, a significant time for Youtube, in order to understand the social media space.

It was an exciting and life-changing time for skilled amateurs. A time that had millions of people singing in their bedrooms or racking  up millions of video views for a commentary on something they would never otherwise have been considered an expert in. Youtube ultimately offered them the opportunity to be heard.

Elizabeth is a strong believer that the internet is the best place to build trust. “The people” ( i.e. you and me) have already got this all figured out. But the reason so many people still believe the internet is destroying trust is that our leaders are still so far from getting it right! We simply don’t have leaders at a political level that have invested in a voice on social media.

Some key things to remember when trying to start conversations online:

  • Most leaders fear that they have to move at an increased pace because of today’s internet culture. You don’t. Go at your own pace but keep people informed as you do it. It’s ok to communicate to people that “the discussions are still in progress” or “we don’t have information on this yet” so long as you’re communicating something!
  • Believe in the power of primary sources because the public certainly do. Hearing directly from the source rather than a paper adds a lot of value to your communication. If you’ve ever been quoted in an article, blog or feature you’ll know the producer of that piece never quite gets to the meat of what you were trying to say because youdon’t own the conversation or drive the discussion – they do!
  • Embracing in the hacker culture, i.e. making it up as you go along, is key. EU politicians, for example, only see social media as a tool for outbound communications and not for their inbound policy making. Hacker culture dictates that they need to consider the latter.

Elizabeth’s take away advice on owning the social media space? “Be yourself online and talk to people in a way that lets them in but not in a way so casual that you’re treating them like family.”

The value of professional certifications

Rick Blasgen, CEO – Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP) and Tom Derry, CEO – Institute of Supply Management ISM led a session on the evolution of procurement  and supply chain and the value of professional certifications.

Both leaders are very optimistic about what the future holds for procurement and supply chain professionals . “I think [these professions]  will be an embedded feature of every competitive global company around the world because they see so much of what goes on,” argues Rick. “We see it really growing into the fabric of successful companies.”

And Rick believes professional certifications “are a normal part of continuing to educate yourself and continuing to be knowledgeable about such a dynamic and ever-changing field.”

“One of the things important to CSCMP is to advance the logistics, supply chain and procurement professions and the careers of those working in them. The only way we do that is by being thought leaders and thinking about using the new technologies and tools that have never before existed.

“Our certifications will educate you on these things and then test that you have the understanding and can utilise the complexity within them.”
“An association used to function as the place where people felt obliged to belong,” says Tom. But nowadays he doesn’t believe professionals feel such a sense of needing to belong to an association  just for the sake of belonging  “They need value for money and they expect a professional body to provide tools and skills that enable them to be successful at a critical moment in their career.”
Sizing up the procurement market
Braden Baseley, ProcurementIQ Analyst discussed the size and maturity of the global procurement market, revealing preliminary  insights from their specially commissioned research report.
The research reveals…
  •  There are 554, 560 procurement pros working in the US, which make up 0.4 per cent of the workforce
  • The average salary for a US procurement professional is $72,199, which is pretty good considering the average US salary is approximately $55, 000
  • California, Texas and New York employ the largest number of procurement professionals
The report will also explore how procurement skills are changing and evolving and the skills that are most desirable in procurement teams.
The Procurement Thought Leadership Forum was sponsored by Basware. 

3 Ways To Keep Up with the Social Media ‘Joneses’

What do you mean you had time to read The Economist cover to cover – don’t you have a job to do??! Kelly Barner advises how you can keep up with the Social Media ‘Joneses’.

We all know one… that person in your network that not only mysteriously has the time to think, read, discuss and be oh-so-intellectual about the day’s leading topics, they also broadcast that fact everywhere. Here are some sample ‘shares’ to give you an idea:

“Really enjoyed this article the third time I read it in this week’s issue of the Economist”

“Back from our week-long innovation retreat / chakra cleansing with a revised vision for procurement”

“Pleased to share volume 4 of my treatise: ‘Reflections on the Meaning of Corporate Procurement’”

Honestly. Don’t these people have real jobs? After reading status updates like these, it’s hard not to feel horribly overwhelmed. Let’s face it – the rest of us are scrambling from top priority to top priority. We’re trying to cover the fundamentals while also finding the time to look for opportunities to create additional value.

Here’s the thing: just as people gild their personal experiences on social media to make it look like they have the ‘perfect’ life, they are tempted to do the same at work. Although you may feel a combination of stress and envy in response to their abundant discretionary time, you can convert that energy into something that is not only productive, but realistic to achieve.

Procurement has long been hesitant to engage on social media (eek! a supplier might be looking!!), but the tide is beginning to turn. Here are some suggestions for how to keep up with the ‘Joneses’ without actually becoming them.

Read One New Thing Every Day (Max investment: 15 minutes)

There is so much content published on a daily basis that it may seem just as easy to let it all float by as to pick something to read. And yet… not reading anything is a huge mistake. Don’t think too hard about your selection – it is wasted time. You’re better off reading something mediocre and moving on than making it an hour long task. There is something to be gained from every piece of content – even if it is so complex or boring that your mind wanders to other topics. Let it go! Stepping away from project-related tasks and phone calls may be just the distance you need to foster a great idea.

Post a Comment (Max investment: 30 minutes)

Not everyone is a writer – and not everyone who writes should. That said, there is just as much value to be realised in commenting on or challenging other people’s work as there is in publishing your own thoughts. If you’ve already invested the time to read something, why not make a comment? We are all made better when we are challenged, and sometimes all it takes to get the conversation going is the first comment. You’ll find that articulating your point of view helps you formalise your thoughts in a way that just reacting in your mind doesn’t.

Host a Lunch & Learn

One of the things we have to give procurement credit for is the abundance of high quality – free access – webinars and podcasts. If you come across one that is relevant to your team, reserve a conference room and invite others to join you. If it is during lunch, encourage people to bring something to eat. If not, grab coffee or see if the company will spring for bagels (people love bagels…) The resulting conversation will move everyone forward and add to the shared knowledge base of the team.

The key thing to keep in mind is that you can learn and grow without shoving it in other people’s faces. If you’re focused on using that investment of time to put yourself above other people, you’re missing the whole point of building virtual community and advancing professional development. Plus, we all know the unspoken reality… the more showy people are about their own accomplishments, the more likely they are to be updating their status from their parents’ basement. 

3 Ways To Win The Internet (You Don’t Have To Be Justin Bieber…)

The social media world is a scary place and unfortunately it’s scaring away the professionals and organisations who need it the most. How do you embrace today’s internet culture and use it to your advantage? 

The Procurious London CPO Roundtable was sponsored by Basware

Elizabeth Linder, Founder and CEO of The Conversational Century joined YouTube in 2007 and often thinks back to that year, a significant time for YouTube, in order to understand the social media space.

It was an exciting and life-changing time for skilled amateurs.

A time that had millions of people singing in their bedrooms, connecting with huge audiences across the globe and finding fame.

Perhaps the most successful YouTuber in this space was Justin Bieber, who’s YouTube performances were discovered  by chance by record label manager, Scooter Braun.

Others, to this day, rack up millions of video views for a commentary on something they would never otherwise have been considered an expert in, or had the chance to be!

Take 7-year-old Ryan as an example of this in action. His YouTube channel “Ryan ToysReview” where he (you guessed it!) reviews the latest and greatest in children’s toys has seen him become one of the richest YouTubers ever and a multimillionaire.

Or there’s Lindsey Stirling, an American violinist, dancer, and composer…

Youtube ultimately offers us the opportunity to be heard, and some people have seized the opportunity with both hands.

Building trust on the internet

Elizabeth Linder is a strong believer that the internet is the best place to build trust.

Clearly  “The People” ( i.e. you and me) have already got this all figured out.

The problem is that so many of the worlds experts; that is the professionals, the politicians, the press, have really struggled to figure out exactly where they fit in. And that’s why so many people still believe the internet is destroying trust.

All too often, as Elizabeth points out, we focus on the sinister corners of the internet, only promoting the negative effects social media is having on our society.

When governments, the press and businesses perpetuate this idea they fail to acknowledge the value and importance that online conversations can bring, and the huge impact they can have.

The public’s use of social media is way more sophisticated than what we see in most professional bodies and businesses across the globe.

That means, as professionals, we’re on the back foot.

And it’s time to change!

At last month’s Procurious roundtable, sponsored by Basware, Elizabeth Linder provided three key pieces of advice to procurement pros who want to start, and win, conversations online.

1. Go at your own pace

Leaders fear that they have to move at an increased pace because of today’s internet culture.

You don’t.

Elizabeth stressed that it’s crucial to take things at your own pace as long as you let people into your thought processes.

A politician in the throws of a disaster situation can’t be expected to have all the answers or all the solutions. But what they can do is keep the public posted on the events as they unfold, maintain a constant dialogue and reassure people that they are doing everything they can.

As a business leader, it’s ok to communicate that “the discussions are still in progress” or “we don’t have information on this yet” so long as you’re communicating something!

You don’t have to speed up because the internet is speedy. It’s just a different kind of dialogue.

When United Airlines hit the headlines for forcibly dragging a passenger off one of their planes, it took them so long to figure out their communications strategy, that they made things a whole lot worse.

They didn’t need a strategy.

They just needed to say something!

2. Believe in the power of primary

We need to believe in the power of primary sources because the public certainly do.

Hearing directly from the source rather than a paper adds a lot of value to your communication.

If you’ve ever been quoted in an article, blog or feature you’ll know the producer of that piece never quite gets to the meat of what you were trying to say. And that’s because you don’t own the conversation or drive the discussion – they do!

The opportunity to speak directly to your audience is an amazing opportunity for leaders and professionals but it’s taken, particularly western, leaders a long time to grab this space and run with it. Perhaps this is because it demands a greater bravery and vulnerability compared with hiding behind a newspaper column or official statements from your organisation. But the pay off is worth it.

The 2011 London riots  were a big wake up moment for the London Police force, who had to figure out how to communicate directly, and effectively with the general public.

And in the UK county of Staffordshire, the police have invested in real authenticity and conversation on social media, building a strong community relationship.

3. Embrace the hacker culture

Embracing in the hacker culture, i.e. making it up as you go along, is key.

EU politicians, for example, only see social media as a tool for outbound communications and not for their inbound policy making.

Hacker culture dictates that they need to consider the latter, and create as they go.

In the early days of Facebook your profile photo was meant to be one photo of yourself.  The idea was that you uploaded it and you kept it.

But Facebook engineers watched a trend emerging of members rapidly changing their profile picture; every time they went to a party, every time they went on holiday. They realised that users wanted to ability to share their photo albums on Facebook and so built in the functionality to do that. Simply by following the patterns of behaviour.

travel business is struggling with this right now – they used to be able to invite critics to review a hotel/ stay somewhere and write up a review – now all it takes is one guest to write a terrible review about crappy plumbing and it can go around the world- feeling of being out of control is prevalent in leadership circles.

Top tips for getting started online

  • Involve people, whether it’s colleagues, clients, customers or the wider community  in the early building stages of your online presence.  What do they want to hear from you? What’s useful and what’s not?
  • Keep a consistency and truthful tone to anything you post online. Post things that represent you or you organisation because it’s so much better to be yourself rather than a contrived version of yourself. If you’re not funny don’t try to be. If you’re earnest be earnest!
  • Don’t let your voice become part of the PR machinery. The UK lost count of the number of times they heard  Theresa May’s Brexit was going to be Strong and Stable – it was a meaningless consultant’s phrase.
  • Be honest! If you don’t know, say you don’t know! It’s much easier to do this online than it is live on TV.

Pick the right people to communicate with your audience. Your business might have a clear hierarchy but it’s important to consider who should be the spokesperson vs who will be the best spokesperson. The Estonian parliament Facebook page asked their maintenance man to run the page, and he’s become a local celebrity, and great PR for the government.

Elizabeth’s take away advice on owning the social media space? “Be yourself online and talk to people in a way that lets them in but not in a way so casual that you’re treating them like family.”

Procurious are hosting CPO roundtables on 30th May, 19th September and 14th November. If you’re a CPO and would like to attend one of our roundtables in person please contact Olga Luscombe via [email protected] to request an invitation.