The Path to Social Eminence in a Digital World is Value Creation


GBS Bee SchoolTaken with Lorraine Rapuano, GBS Bee School Program Manager, and Ramin Mobasseri, ‘the social guy’, a faculty member for the program.


Last week I had the honor of delivering an informal lunchtime keynote talk on ‘social eminence’ at IBM’s Bee School, a 4-day class to equip the IBM Global Business Services workforce with core skills, knowledge, and tools to best serve our clients.

I started at IBM as a business transformation consultant nearly 20 years ago, and have always worked from home, so for me engaging socially has been, quite simply, the way to get work done. Internally, I was an early adopter of our IBM Connections social business platform to engage with colleagues, using it to connect and follow colleagues from across the business, sharing and reacting to content shared by others, collaborating on projects and building professional communities for everything from specific work projects to special interests like career development, leadership and mindfulness.

When it comes to using external digital social platforms such as facebook and twitter and LinkeIn for professional purposes, I am much more of a novice. I use facebook for personal purposes, although about half of my friends are now fellow IBMers and these days the content I share that gets the most ‘likes’ tends to be work-related. I have a twitter account that is primarily fed by my WordPress blogs (Leading with Intention, This Abundantly Delicious Life, Mostly My Heart Sings, and Where Possibility Awaits). Only recently have I realized the power of LinkedIn and am making more time to engage there.

To prepare for my session, I reached out to peers in my internal network who I consider to be socially eminent in the area of leveraging social tools. I got some great input that I curated into a toolkit for my colleagues. However, the lists of steps to take and ways to engage to build one’s eminence weren’t sitting right with me for some reason.

It wasn’t until I was flying home that I found the answer to that feeling I had. It came like a tornado siren in my ear as I read The Outward Mindset: Seeing Beyond Ourselves – How to Change Lives and Transform Organizations by The Arbinger Institute. The message that was important was not “how to be eminent” – an inward mindset, but rather “how to create value” – an outward mindset.

Being social in the digisphere is about collaboration to create value.

Engaging in the digisphere is about collaboration to create value, versus sharing to shine the spotlight on yourself. When we engage on digital social platforms, internally within our own organizations or externally on the increasingly popular tools for personal or professional collaboration, value can be created for ourselves (for example, a need for self-expression), for others (for example, support discovery and learning), for our organizations (for example, innovative ideas), and for something bigger (for example, ending cancer). One little tweet can serve all those purposes.

What I love about using digital social platforms is how I can learn from and get help from others, share ideas and get reaction and feedback, create and design with others, and see what’s happening outside my little world. I think it’s really cool how great ideas come from unexpected places, like through the weak links in our network – that is, from people that are connectd to people we know. (Read more about the social serendipity effect by Jim Claussen.)

I’ve always believed that first we must take care of ourselves if we are to take care of others. And that applies here as well.  To add value for others and something bigger than ourselves starts with ourselves. There IS an internal focus that’s needed to support a powerful outward mindset. Asking questions such as these can help us gain clarity about who we are and the value we create:

  • What do I know?
  • What am I working on?
  • What do I have expertise in?
  • What are my signature capabilities?
  • What am I learning?
  • What am I passionate about?
  • What energizes and inspires me?

There’s value in being thoughtful and intentional about what you share and how you contribute, and asking questions about your sharing and engagement such as:

  • What do I want to create and why?
  • What value will my sharing create?
  • How might I best contribute?
  • What personal needs and objectives am I meeting?
  • What needs and objectives do others have?

What I’ve discovered is that social eminence is a by-product of good social engagement, not the center piece. When we stay focused on bringing our best to the needs, objectives and challenges of others, organizations, and the world, being known for our value happens naturally.

Social eminence is a by-product of good social engagement, not the center piece.

Ultimately, what you discover as people begin to associate you with value around something specific, they want to connect with you, they start sending you things that you’re interested in, and they might even invite you to engage in cool things with them.


NOTE: The opinions, views, and perspectives shared in this blog are mine and are not intended to necessarily reflect those of IBM.

Author: Vicki L Flaherty

I am most alive when I am creating, whether through writing, photography, gardening, cooking, crafting, sewing, yoga. I enjoy traveling because it opens me to greater awareness and new possibilities. I find a special joy when I’ve helped someone see their brilliance and express their full potential. As I've focused on living more mindfully, I've found special joy in expressing myself through poetry and photography, and in truly being in relationship with those I meet along my journey.

11 thoughts on “The Path to Social Eminence in a Digital World is Value Creation”

  1. Nicely Written! Agreed that with social media eminence we always need to go back to what value we bring. In addition, we should try to engage with our audience. If we have interaction and feedback we can all improve in the process. There have been many occasions where when I shared my expertise, I have learned from others, growing our combined knowledge. Thanks for sharing your knowledge, I always learn something new!

  2. Hi Vicki. What a great post. I was one of those who benefited by your social eminence and early adoption of platforms at IBM. I’m so happy to see you enjoying your work and being valued for being valuable! Great job.

  3. Love this post, especially the framing between inward and outward mindset! You create value for me and my clients.

  4. Thanks, Ana, Maureen, and Ann, for your comments. I love when it’s a win-win – I experience the joy of creativity and expression that is writing and engage with amazing people like you, and someone learns or takes away something that might help them. Anna, the interaction and co-creation that’s possible is awesome. Maureen, you rocked the internal social platform when you were at IBM. Ann, it’s so cool that all these years later (not sayin’ how many!) we are still connected – thank you technology! 🙂

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