Andrea Learned

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Mindful Leading: Social Media Can Help


In today’s “crazy busy” world, mindfulness means paying attention to the thinking and “being” space you need to be the best leader possible. It’s up to YOU to make that space. This applies to your social media presence too. As a mindful leader, you need to be intentional about where you contribute and how engaged you can be while you are there.

Being so busy has become a cliché. You DO have more control over your own time.  You just rarely take it. Enter social media, somewhat counter-intuitively, as a practice by which you may potentially save time and increase productivity (seriously).

Add Social Media, Get More Time

In the past few years, I’ve come to realize why social media is such a natural fit in my own professional life: it keeps my reactive busy-ness LOW but my proactive effectiveness HIGH. And, it helps me — a textbook introvert — maintain relevance in the conversational flow of the sustainability and leadership communities I love, mainly from the quiet of my own home.

No other tool (specifically Twitter) I’ve come across in my 30-year marketing and communications career has ramped up my networking, helped me learn (so many) new things, kept me in friendly touch with key journalists and decreased my anxieties about all the conferences I cannot manage to attend.

With self-control and managed expectations, social media’s ROI can be off the charts. In that mindful way, your leadership can be seen and heard, and become “known,” with much greater scale than you could otherwise manage. The key? Use social media to build solid foundations of ongoing conversations that will THEN help you make the most of your real-life “moments”- be they conferences, speaking gigs or something else.

Still… mention social media to the typical uber-busy business leader and you get: “I just don’t have time.” But, trust me. It really is possible to get comfortable using your social media network of choice (I hereby give you permission to choose just one) to your own advantage and within your own work style. Simply map out your own time involvement parameters, make it a habit, embed it into those moments of your day, and watch yourself become more energized and more aware.

Consistent (not continual) monitoring of social media can raise awareness of key business ecosystem factors like:

  • Business/product context (at local, national, global and policy levels)
  • Possible collaborators (from all sorts of unexpected places)
  • Trends in the broader industry and cross-sector conversations
  • General trends in leadership and skill development (you will always learn)
  • Competitor announcements and activity (clues are visible, when you look)
  • Insight into what your favorite business journalists are covering these days

Events: Less Quantity, More Quality

Those who get past “I don’t have time” and invest in learning the subtleties of social media engagement are often wowed. I’ve heard this from clients and also in conversations I’ve had with many members of Twitter’s thriving sustainability and leadership communities.

More specifically, leveraging social media (especially Twitter) around conferences or speaking gigs can be the most persuasive proof that it’s so worth taking the time. As I noted in a previous post , a leader’s (or her communications team’s) sense of urgency about social media elevates exponentially in anticipation of such a moment.

This can cause a rush to do one-sided “broadcast” tweets about the leader or brand, which is the opposite of engaging. However, if you start the learning process a few months in advance, your steady drumbeat of authentic social engagement will build receptive followers and momentum that will set your leadership apart.

A few insider notes on events and social media:

  • Reaching out to key influencers — out of the blue — just days in advance of an event reflects a leader’s or his/her company’s lack of awareness, if not their irrelevance.
  • Plenty of event organizers still may not understand Twitter diplomacy or hashtags, so the fact that you DO helps them look good and makes you an even more ideal speaker/panelist.
  • Event organizers who understand Twitter will land better-connected speakers, leading to further amplification of the conference agenda (getting more people to attend, and so on).

Mindful Leading, Social Style

Mindful social media engagement is not frantic or reactionary. Nor should it be overly “crafted,” especially for an individual’s feed (versus a brand’s). Instead, the approach should be deliberate and pro-active. Status updates or posts should sound like you and reflect what is important to you. Anything else is not worth the bother and won’t build the community you intend. That, I can guarantee.

To repeat: There is so much value in using a social media platform consistently and authentically!

But, wait…you ask, what’s to stop you from getting overwhelmed with business-to-business tweeting or LinkedIn posts, just like you do with your personal Facebook page? You are! Never forget how much personal agency you have in managing the social media expectations your followers have of you. A mindful engager stops and thinks, and gains respect for doing so.


Take into account all you normally do to stay on top of your field, like researching, reading, listening to stakeholders, networking and so on. Then, try giving even 10% ofthat amount of time over to social media engagement (get a coach if you need a jumpstart). I’m pretty sure you’ll see the benefit in connecting informally with new-to-you, big thinking, accessible leaders with great ideas and insights. And, I haven’t even mentioned the “so much more” social media involvement can deliver…

Define your own parameters, dive in and intentionally contribute. Your mindful engaging will lead by example. In time, you’ll attract and find the community of influencers to learn from and give back to, and you’ll have a very clear idea how to most effectively spend your time. Frequent flyer miles be damned.

Image via Flickr/Creative Commons
First published on Medium, April 29, 2016