Recently I asked Satya Nadella, the CEO of Microsoft, to be a guest on my podcast, Tell Us a Story. I followed that up by asking ex-prime minister of New Zealand Helen Clark, and a few weeks prior it was Liam Malone, 2016 men’s 400-metre Paralympics gold medalist.

What’s so special about that, you might ask? I connected with them through the power of LinkedIn. So far, two of them have said yes, and I await the last response with bated breath.

When I met with Kevin Roberts, ex-global CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi at my local Rotary Club luncheon, I knew I’d have to act. He was the main speaker and, guess what, I sent a connection directly after thanking him for a great speech. As the director of my company, I am being social and gaining something from it. My question to you is this: Are you?

Taking part and being active online isn’t just about finding the time to tweet your lunch contents or what you’re doing this weekend, although some CEOs do. It’s about being available and approachable to your customers, to your team and to anyone else on the periphery who might want to get in touch.

Earlier this year, Jeff Kirwan, the president and CEO of fashion giant Gap, received a letter from a young girl about the type of clothing on offer for children in the brand’s stores.

Here’s what she wrote:

Dear Gap,

My name is Alice Jacob and I am almost 5½ years old. I like cool shirts like Superman and Batman shirts and race car shirts, too. All your girl shirts are pink and princesses and stuff like that. The boys’ shirts are really cool. They have Superman, Batman, rock-and-roll and sports.

What about girls who like those things like me, and my friend Olivia? Can you make some cool girls’ shirts please? Or, can you make a no boys’ or girls’ section – only a kids’ section?

As Jeff himself had a young daughter who particularly liked all things dinosaur, he immediately associated with Alice and wrote her a letter back. His response was: “You are right. I think we can do a better job offering even more choices that appeal to everyone. I’ve talked with our designers and we’re going to work on even more fun stuff that I think you’ll like.”

Alice, even at a very young age, understood that her favourite store could do better, and she let them know. Jeff took that communication seriously. It would have been easy to toss it aside, but instead he listened to her feedback and realised that Gap could do better, and put the wheels in motion.

While Alice wrote an old-fashioned letter, the story hit the headlines, and the internet went crazy for it, and both Gap and Alice – and girls everywhere – were winners. Who doesn’t love
a feel-good story shared online?

Being active online (or in written form), whether you are being yourself with idle chit-chat, taking part in a serious discussion, confessing to something, or stopping the flow of something else, you’re visible, vulnerable and approachable, all at the same time.

If the idea of this sort of exposure makes beads of sweat form on your brow, there might be a problem within your company that needs fixing before you can venture online with confidence – otherwise you could be ducking for cover pretty quickly.

Most companies won’t have that problem, though, and I’d encourage you to learn about the various platforms and what they can do for you, your reputation, your career, and your future because I’d hate for you to miss out on opportunities.

Go back to the start of this article. How else would I have been able to reach out to those three very famous individuals and ask them to be a guest? Would you know Helen Clark’s email address or mobile number; or how about the CEO of Microsoft? And yes, you’ll recall Microsoft owns LinkedIn, which is extremely convenient.

Allocate some time to get your online profile up to date. Fill in all the blank spaces, spend time on the all-important summary, and reach out to those you want to work with/spend time with/employ/mentor, et cetera – whatever it may be.

Give them the option to look at your profile and say, ‘Yes, why not’ to your connection request. Then the rest is up to you.