How we're assessed in terms of the potential value we could bring to a collaboration, partnership or a job role is changing. When we started out on our journey through social media, many of us had no idea where we were heading. Some end up on an exciting high-seas adventure. Others stalled a few miles outside the village and are still sat in the lay-by playing Candy Crush Saga.
No longer can we consider ourselves men or women of mystery. Most people who have worked for any length of time in a particular industry or discipline will return a few results on a Google search. If people don't, then it's almost regarded as odd. Some might suggest it sinister.
A few months ago I tried to look up information on an old manager of mine who I'd heard had sold his company around five years ago for a cool few million.
I found nothing. Nada. Zilch. I don't mind telling you that I scratched my head a little; this guy was very well known in his industry.
And there's the thing: generally people expect to find something when they go about a tentative fact-finding online mission. If you're a 'somebody', the great digital oracle will bear credence to that notion... Right?
Whether we like it or not, we're all up for being digitally frisked these days. So it makes sense that we consider our Social Capital Value - our 'SCV', if you will - in all this.
Now I don't trot out 'buzz terms' in the hope that something strange and intriguing will enable me to hike my invoices up a few notches. SCV is something we should all be giving thought to if we're even the slightest bit interested in earning a living. It doesn't matter how unimportant we might think a quick glance at our Twitter profile might be, others will form judgements based on it. Those judgements may be totally unfair, but that won't stop them being made and more likely than not you won't be there to defend yourself.
So let's consider the implications.
What is SCV exactly?
Some might say it's a Klout score, but I'd suspect for the most part it will be calculated in a very basic manner. Not everyone is obsessed with Klout, you see...
Here's what I mean:
Picture the scene, you're going for a senior role within a large blue chip company and you've got past the initial sift. Your potential employers want to dig around to find the 'dirt or diamonds' on you.
Interviewer 1: 'Wow... This guy has over five thousand Twitter followers! How many has our company account got? Four hundred and something?"
Interviewer 2: "That means nothing. Didn't you see that documentary about companies abroad who sell a thousand fake followers for ten dollars? Numbers mean nothing."
Interviewer 1: "Hmmm... [clicks around a bit on your profile]... Well, I'm not sure these are fake followers, because his quote about defining goals got fifteen retweets... his blog post got nearly the same... he's chatting with and reaching out to a lot of people."
Interviewer 2: "Really? Let me see that...."
On closer inspection the two find that many of those you're interacting with could all be good contacts to have. Not only do you have the digitally updated version of a contacts book bursting with great names, but they're engaging with you for all to see. They know you, you know them... and most importantly, they're listening to what you have to say. The potential in that is unquantifiable.
As I type this I can hear the cries of 'that goes against the grain of what social media is about'. And for some it does, yes. But anyone who truly believes that businesses (and business people) only get involved with social media to 'be social' are missing the point. 'Being social' is at the root of how an increasing amount business gets written these days. We're moving from the golf course and onto our iPhones.
What else does your SCV say about you?
Beyond the ability to engage people in meaningful and productive conversations (which of course is a huge asset), a really impressive social presence tells me one thing: you're resourceful.
You understand that this 'free' tool is there to be explored and conquered. And if you're successfully doing that you are way ahead of the curve. Don't underestimate the value in this; even though we're ten years into the social adventure so many companies and individuals are still struggling to get to grips with it. For many it' remains akin a foreign language, but the really confusing type with baffling hieroglyphics.
It also says you've got staying power. Anyone who has built an online presence the correct way (and not through buying fake followers) knows that an engaged and loyal following does not come about overnight. It can take years. That takes real determination.
Now this is all about the positives, but let's not kid ourselves... There may be times when your super-social starry-ness causes a little bit of concern. Questions might be asked, such as:
"Is she bigger than the company?"
In terms of online influence, a few businesses may need to wake up, smell the coffee and realise that ... yes, you may well be.
Is it a bad thing? Only if they choose to draw a slightly insecure veil over it. Personally I'd say it can only ever be regarded as positive to boast a digital ambassador within its number, but where egos are at play anything can happen. And the annoying thing about egos is that we all have one, ranging from the controlled and manageable right through to the downright overinflated. But in a world where most companies are still struggling to skilfully manoeuvre their social media vehicle, anyone who can deftly tweet their way to the top of a digital tree would be an asset.
Of course, this all assumes one thing: that your SCV is impressive. It assumes that when someone clicks on your profiles they're met with an active and vibrant personality who has not only harnessed the power of the platforms but is actively deploying it.
Most social media users will return 'average' results when they're investigated in this way. Which is exactly why taking to time to build a compelling and powerful social presence is undoubtedly a far better use of your time than Candy Crush Saga*
*Other games are available, but none have been proven to help you win a job, contract or elusive business deal.