Social media is not just a technological tool. It’s a complete game changer. It has to have purpose. Success with social media depends upon your ability to rally people around that purpose. Even more, it depends on your ability to relinquish traditional management models in favor of accepting collaborative responsibility.
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The purpose you choose has to be one that motivates people to become involved. This is harder than it seems. Finding a purpose
others will passionately buy into requires a shift in mindset. Giving up leadership control traditionally means opening yourself to risks from which traditional models insulate you.
In your current advisory business model, you probably function in one of three ways.
· You are the managing partner of a multiple (more than two) partner team with an able staff. You may have left a large institution to create an independent RIA together. You probably specialize in a particular area. You may also work with external professionals occasionally, primarily on a referral basis.
· Or, you are one of two partners working together, with one or two staff who provide support. You and this partner have gone out on your own. You use a broker-dealer to supply your back-office needs and you don’t generally work with external professionals unless a client asks you to.
· Or, you are functioning solo, sharing staff with other solo practitioners, working under a managerial situation either at a large institution or within a sizeable independent RIA.
In each of these scenarios, you are the one who accepts ultimate responsibility for the client relationship. Your organizational flow-chart reflects this model. Each project or delivery of service functions within a prescriptive process designed within a corporate environment—either a financial institution or your own independent RIA.
Implemented correctly, social media does the opposite. It energizes collaborative teams and fosters innovative solutions. This can’t happen if a single person ultimately insists on controlling the final outcome. Instead, the team lead must give up the role of “leader” and accept the role of “guide
to the collaborative process.”
You have to choose the purpose for your social media involvement strategically and collaboratively. You have to open responsibility to the collaborative group. And you have to stay out of the way and let collaborative forces work.
How do you do this?
· Make sure there is open dialogue for sharing ideas, discussing problems, creating plans, and contributing to the project or service.
· Measure progress against the collaborative purpose chosen. This means that you, as guide, have to take a step back and view the overall process and benchmark it against process goals and objectives.
· Create an organizational structure which connects collaborators and protects each collaborator’s ability to contribute.
A collaborative organizational design fosters ideas for furthering progress and overcoming obstacles. Clients, partners, staff, and even external professionals are included in this process.
And why not? Gaining client input is the most efficient way to discover their needs. Making clients part of the process is the easiest, most efficient way to find out what they need and how they want those needs fulfilled. Opening the discussion to partners, staff, and external professionals you trust makes clients feel they have your full attention and that their needs are of first importance. It’s fulfilling. And it’s fun.
The way to start is step-by-step. Choose an area of your business where it makes sense to apply this model. Start a collaborative conversation with clients, partners, and staff around this particular area.
You don’t have to change everything overnight. And don’t make measuring progress your sole responsibility; let your new client, partner, staff, external professional community offer their assessments, too. Starting out small will let you make mistakes and correct them without the trauma of taking on too much risk before you are ready.