I think there is a flaw in the premise behind your question, namely, that there is indeed a need to separate from the pack. We are social animals, as the word pack itself suggests. We are organized around the concept of togetherness and cooperation: society, culture and so on. We live together, work together. Thus, separating from the pack is alien to our nature and will likely be counter-productive, both at the individual and societal level. Rather than separating from the pack, I think the issue is to find the position in the pack best suited for each one of us, and work towards attaining that position, by analyzing and identifying one’s own unique strengths, skills, innate abilities and propensities, and using such knowledge to do so. In my opinion, an individual’s focus should be on adding value to society, and I think doing so encourages creative thinking and harmony. The separating from the pack concept, on the other hand, encourages a dog eat dog scenario, and tactical push and pull, but not harmony.
This answer was in response to a question by Guy Battaglia who was asking:
What have you done to separate yourself from the pack?
Conventional wisdom has us believe that differentiation is the key to success. Products and brands are successful because they have a strong USP.
Individuals are successful because they stand out and differentiate themselves from the crowd. We hitherto believe that this differentiation is the key to success, especially on a social media channel like LinkedIn, which is primarily focuses on the professional aspects of our life.
And yet, prima facie, Kamala’s perspective rings true in some deep corner of the heart. Why the apparent paradox?
I’d like to offer two points of view, which are very complementary in nature and go hand in hand:
1. The Corporate Dilemma (And The Un/Anti-Social Media):
LinkedIn, as a social media channel, has it’s genesis in the corporate world. A few years ago, LinkedIn was a tool to put your resume online, and network solely for the purpose of upward growth or lateral shifts, inline with your career goals. For many of us, it’s just that – even today.
The corporate world is predominantly modeled using demand – supply theories, where everything follows this theory like clockwork. There might be a some exceptions to this, but they are few and far between.
It is here where you will also witness a paucity of everything – limited supply – of jobs, resources and opportunities.
No wonder a dog-eat-dog mentality takes over based on survival of the fittest paradigms. And this survival is measured by the degree of differentiation – the more you stand out, the more successful you are perceived to be.
2. Crossing Bridges And Morphing Into Social Media:
I keep talking about the importance of authenticity and real connections in social media. LinkedIn is no exception. When we apply the same fundamental rules of social media to LinkedIn, a different pattern starts to emerge.
With this new frame of mind, even LinkedIn starts crossing bridges and morphing into true social media – a place where real, authentic connections are forged and cherished. Suddenly, LinkedIn becomes much powerful than it’s original purpose – you can not only keep your profile updated – but also do something much more meaningful.
You can now add flavors to your profile that you would never have added before, exposing facets from the Johari Window of your life hitherto unknown to the world, but which make you uniquely you.
What’s the difference now, you ask? The difference is that you’ve now moved over from the corporate paradox over to the true world of social media – bringing your LinkedIn with you.
Here’s my personal 6 step plan to really turn LinkedIn social for you:
- Get rid of a flaky resume. You’re much more than just a resume. Let your profile be a reflection of who you truly are – not just a chronology of jobs.
- Eliminate connections that are not authentic. You should be able to relate to – and communicate with – each of your connections.
- Expose your multiple dimensions to the world – if you’re a blogger, say so. If you’re an artist, declare that. All of us are much more than the jobs we do. Be proud about everything else that you do.
- Join relevant LinkedIn Groups – and start participating in LinkedIn Answers. No, not just based on your resume, but based on all of your interests.
- Establish yourself as a subject matter expert. Heck – define your own subject, and be an expert at that. How many program managers do you get who play guitar and love zen? Or how many working mom’s do you see who can play the banjo? If that’s who you are, be it!
- Expand your real network based on your subject matter expertise – build connections, not acquaintances.
And then, you’ll almost magically find that Kamala’s perspective starts making sense – and working for you. You’ll be able to really turn LinkedIn social.
What do you think?
(Image Credit: Lisa Norwood http://www.flickr.com/photos/lisanorwood/)