Stand Out in the Pro AV Space: Digital Leadership in 5 Steps

Digital Leadership expert Erik Qualman told pro AV NSCA Business & Leadership Conference attendees how to stand out in a crowded, evolving digital space.

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Stand Out in the Pro AV Space: Digital Leadership in 5 Steps

Do you know what your digital stamp is? Do you even know what a digital stamp is? If not, you should, although there’s nothing you can do to control it, anyway. Understanding it is part of showing digital leadership, especially in the pro AV space. 

A digital stamp is the combination of your digital footprint [your online trail] and your digital shadow, which is what others post about you online.

While you have some control over what message you’re putting out about yourself and your company, your digital shadow is completely out of your hands, social media expert Erik Qualman told NSCA Business & Leadership Conference attendees.

The good news, says Qualman, is about 86 percent of people get a job because of something an employer found out about them online, while only about 35 percent miss out on opportunities because of something posted about them online. That bucks conventional wisdom for most people.

And if you think you can get away from being tracked online when you go to the gym, your office, a concert or sporting event, or even at Disney World, you couldn’t be more wrong, says Qualman.

“We’re just at the beginning of a massive shift,” he says.

“Technology changes every second, but humanity never does. Digital leadership is about using these tools when time and distance are an issue. When you can have that lunch meeting or grab that coffee, you should do it. You have to figure out what works for you and your company and what makes you comfortable. No one can do it all.”

All About Digital Leadership

Digital leadership, says Qualman, “has very little to do with technology and everything to do with relationships. Being a digital leader is about stepping into discomfort. Our pro AV customers are telling us what they want in real time. It’s up to us to take that data and surprise and delight them. You’ve all heard about Big Data, but that’s small data.”

With about 80 percent of all content consumption on mobile devices now coming by video, “word of mouth is now world of mouth,” says Qualman, who calls the phenomenon “socialnomics” or “digital steroids.”

These days, “integrity and reputation are now one thing,” he says.

“When you see something that works, are you nimble enough to step into it and take advantage of it while it’s happening?” he asks.

He pointed to the Pokemon Go craze and recounted a coffee shop that made customers for life by participating in it, even though the owner didn’t quite understand it all. That’s called momentum marketing, he says.

“We’re living in a Jetsons world, but those who live in the Jetsons and Flintstones worlds are the ones who’ll have the most success,” says Qualman. He notes about 93 percent of people make to-do lists, but only about 4 percent make not-to-do or not-yet lists, even though the latter “should be 20 times longer” than any to-do list.

5 Steps to Digital Leadership

Successful firms, says Qualman, follow five habits of innovation: simplicity, true, act, map and people or STAMP for those who like acronyms. In keeping things simple, that means the world needs fewer people who multi-task because it’s impossible to do that, says Qualman.

“We’re not multi-tasking,” he says. “We’re switching tasks and that means we’re actually getting less done. We’re making our brain decide between A and B.” Qualman says it’s important to focus on the one thing we can do well that will make the other things we do easier or unnecessary.

He also says the human brain needs a break and we work better in 20-minute chunks. Every 20 minutes, people should stop working and focus on something 20 feet away for 20 seconds to give their eyes and their brains a brief respite and increase productivity.

In terms of truth, Qualman asks, “if someone Googled your name or pro AV firm, what one word would you want to show up?” He said to take that word and make it into a sentence that best describes what you or your company does best.

When it comes to taking action, even failure is OK as long as learn something from it, says Qualman.

“Fail fast, fail forward, fail better,” he says. “It’s about being ‘flawsome.’ If you fix your mistakes right, you’ll have a customer for life.”

A map provides you a firm destination, says Qualman.

“You always want to be a year ahead of the competition but not a year ahead of your pro AV market,” he says. “Be firm in your destination, but flexible in the path. It’s about eating your lunch before someone else does it for you.”

Digital leadership is about helping to “post it forward,” says Qualman. That means shining a light on someone else online rather than always focusing on yourself.

“The worst time to network is when you need the favor,” he says.