In my work consulting, coaching, and speaking to various organizations on how to leverage social media for their business objectives, I sometimes come across some that I feel can be role models in terms of how they utilize social media for their company. The below interview is with one such individual, Abhishek Mittal (@mumblr on Twitter), who is a B2B business development executive with the thought-leading global professional services company Towers Watson. He has become an “influencer” within his industry due to his savvy use of social media, and this had led to him being able to develop business from his social media activity – and being someone who is often sought out by his customers.
Please briefly first describe your role at Towers Watson.
I work in the Organisational Surveys & Insights practice at Towers Watson, Singapore. I manage relationships with clients across Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and India and work with them to design solutions to address business needs such as employee engagement, culture alignment, change management, talent management, human capital risk assessment, customer engagement, etc.
I understand that, in addition to the above role, you are an avid blogger. Why did you decide to start blogging?
Back in the mid-2000s, I had picked up blogging as a casual hobby, writing about anything and everything under the sun. Over the years, I started focusing on writing about topics I was most passionate about – people management, HR / OD, leadership, employee engagement etc. Apart from looking at blogging as a tool for self-expression and reaching out to a global audience, I also see it as a tool for personal development. I also feel that my blog is a way for me to contribute to the global HR / OD community and it’s pool of knowledge.
What has been the ROI of your blogging?
Firstly, I have managed to connect with some fantastic people in my area of work through my blog. There have been great conversations and thought-exchanges, which have been very enriching for me. And I actually got a chance to meet a few of them in-person even though we live in different parts of the world! Secondly, blogging has done wonders to my personal brand. Through my blog (and other social media channels like Twitter), I got recognized as one of the Top Online Influencers in Leadership & HR. Many HR professionals and even headhunters discover me through my blog!
My active presence on social media channels has also helped my get new leads and business. For instance, I once found a HR professional on an online forum with technical questions about Employee Engagement constructs. I wrote back a detailed reply and some of the other participants backed my thoughts. I got to setup a meeting and I have had them as a client for 3 years now! Similarly, I have found good business leads from LinkedIn Answers forums. Very recently, I got a call from a reader of my blog saying that he liked what he read, and was interested in having a more detailed conversation about how we could partner together.
Most consultants I meet have little time for social media, nonetheless blogging! How do you find, or make, time for your efforts?
I have got this question many times. I see social media as a personal learning & development channel for myself. It helps me connect with great people, come across great content and stay abreast of the latest & greatest in my field. And since this channel is ‘real-time’, often I am one of the first to know. Rather than being a drain on my time, social media actually helps me become a much better advisor to my clients. Hence, I do not see it as “yet another thing” I need to do – it’s integrated into my life.
What other social media advice would you give others in a similar B2B business development role?
Social media is a great way of keeping up to date on your professional sphere, clients and the business world in general. It provides access to great research and also exposes one to the innovation that’s happening on the fringes by small companies. It provides networking opportunities that otherwise don’t exist.
In order to establish trust and influence in these channels, I follow a few key rules: 1) Begin by sharing yourself, rather than going in to glean information and jump out! 2) Don’t just consume information, engage in dialogue about the information so that it grows. 3) Don’t try to sell (Yes, don’t sell but rather establish trust and sales will automatically follow).
In conclusion, would you recommend others in a similar B2B outfacing business development role blog? I realize the personal branding aspect, but could you say that it is plain old good business to do so, i.e. if done right it could lead to both lead generation as well as establishing thought leadership for your brand (company and personal) in the market?
Absolutely! These days we cannot afford not have presence in the online world. And social media can be a great prospecting / networking tool for business development folks. If done right, it is a powerful way of establishing trust, having great conversations and showing one’s influence or expertise in a given area. Though I must add that, this is relatively slow in parts of Asia I have worked in, where “face-time” is still critical.
Has this inspired YOU to start blogging?