ISM: Brand Yourself as a Procurement Professional Using Social Media

Well, I’m down $40 (stupid roulette tables), but I am much richer in knowledge and experience having both attended and survived my very first procurement speaking gig at this year’s ISM conference. I was asked to be a part of the Emerging Practitioners track, speaking in a session called “From Wikis to Whitepapers: Brand Yourself By Leveraging Social Media and Other Resources.” I was honored to share the stage with Kim Cullen, Director of Marketing at Bidnet, and Helen Eckmann, a faculty member at Brandman University. I thought I’d give a quick overview of what we covered (without the nervousness I felt from live speaking - do all you veterans ever get used to that?)

Kim, Helen, and I set the stage by splitting the subject matter into the ol’ “know/think/do” paradigm. What do you need to know about yourself to learn to cultivate your brand in a positive way - what introspective traits can you hone? How do other people currently think of you, and how do you want to change that? And finally - what’s the strategy? What do you do to effectively brand yourself as a procurement professional online?

Know (this was my section)

In the four years I’ve been at Spend Matters, I’ve observed several common traits in the sector leaders I work with on both the practitioner and provider sides. Separately these traits may seem a bit obvious. But combined, they have the power to morph someone into a powerhouse:

Integrity - the simple act of doing what you said you’d do, when you said you’d do it. Integrity does not mean you are right or wrong or that you are better or worse than anyone else. But how often do you find yourself not answering an email or phone call because you just don’t feel like it? What about good old procrastination? And I bet your brain comes up with some amazing excuses and justifications too, yes? “I couldn’t do it because Bob didn’t finish the spreadsheet.” Or everyone’s favorite, “I’m just too busy. I’ll do it tomorrow.” I challenged the audience to practice integrity, asking themselves if these excuses were truly valid. If they are, great. If not…by acknowledging that and addressing it, a new level of trust and respect is possible from people in every area of your life, not just at work.

Communication - One of the keys to integrity is obviously communication. Four simple steps here:

1) Reflect on what happened on your part – that’s right, point that finger right at yourself – to challenge your integrity.

2) Clean it up by communicating and saying what happened (without excuses or whining – that’s key).

3) Create a new commitment or terminate the agreement.

4) Follow through and keep communicating as issues arise.

Imagine if everyone acted this way.

Know what you’re good at - This is such a “duh” point. Every teen movie focuses on it. Your superiors didn’t hire you to be an actor all day, trying to be someone you’re not. If you want to be a thought leader, you’re going to feel a lot more comfortable on the path there if you’re being who you are, honing your strengths, acknowledging your weaknesses, and asking for help when you need it. Leaders are leaders because they know to consult subject matter experts effectively.

Practice empathy - I’ll let Lifehacker handle this one.

Dr. Eckmann then jumped in to talk about how you can modify how others see you. She began by acknowledging that everyone’s first impression of you is how you look. (Signs and signifiers, for my de Saussure readers out there). So anything from how you hold your body to the way you choose to phrase things can make a substantial impact on how people perceive you. So, some questions to ask: Who are you and what are you good at? What do other people say or think about you now? How do you want to change that? Lots to consider here.

And finally, Kim Cullen went through some tactical social media dos and don’ts.


  • Be authentic
  • Add value
  • Focus your efforts on key outlets
  • Know your goals
  • Tailor your content
  • Build relationships
  • Join groups and interact
  • Start a supplier collaboration group
  • Post, repost, like, comment
  • Update your profile
  • Give insight through quotes


  • Be selfish (do share and talk about others)
  • Steal content (give credit to author)
  • Be 100% automated
  • Say anything inappropriate

And finally, we put together a full list of all of the online groups, Twitter handles, and thought leaders in the space we think people should follow. If you want that, please contact me ( and I can email it to you. Thanks for the opportunity, ISM - I hope to attend next year as well!

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Voices (2)

  1. Sheena Smith:

    Thanks, Charles – appreciate the encouragement. Always interested in new industry speaking opportunities as well, as long as you don’t mind shaky knees at the beginning of the presentation 🙂

  2. Charles Dominick:

    Good job, Sheena, and welcome to the procurement speaking realm!

    All of the speaking slots for the 2014 NLPA Conference in September are filled, but would you like us to keep you in mind for a slot for 2015?

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