Social is something you are, not a tool you use

We’ve got all the tools implemented, but people don’t use them! What’s wrong?

Unfortunately, this is not too uncommon a statement. Organizations buy and install software for internal collaboration, pay the bill and then pray that staff will find them and use them just because they are there.

Sure, some curious enthusiasts may find the new “cool tools” but you will not reach widespread adoption for a very long time unless you supplement the social enablement with changes to the way the organization works and with communication and motivation for the employees.

Watching several sessions from IBM Connect in January on Livestream triggered me to summarize some input from there and adding some of my own.

The mindset you should encourage carries a set of characteristics:

Show trust in others to earn trust by others (and be worthy of trusting, of course) – Guy Kawasaki

All positive, productive relations and social interactions are based on mutual trust. The fastest way to gain the trust by others is to start displaying trust in them. This goes for companies trusting their customers (generous return policies to encourage trying of products as in Guy Kawasaki’s examples) as well as executives trusting their associates with not misusing the openness of social intranets.

Default to openness  – Chris from Lowe’s (sorry, I didn’t get his family name)

Is there a good reason to keep “it” under wraps? No? Then work “out loud” as Lowe’s called it. Let others see what you’re working on and what you have achieved. Save your documents as public files, make your bookmarks public, update your status frequently. If there is no reason to keep it to yourself, you may just as well let your work speak for you. And, you never know who may stumble over it and be able to help you improve it or get unstuck. At the same time, your work may be useful to someone else, increasing efficiency and maybe inspiring to new and better ways of doing things.

Default to “yes”Guy Kawasaki

Being positive pays back. If you respond positively when others ask you for help or favours (within your capacity of course – because not delivering on promises is not good for building trust). If you help out when you can, your network will help you out when you need it. Maybe not exactly the same person you helped out the other day, but since your positive attitude has been on public display, your “karma-account” will be positive.

Dialogue, not monologue

Monologues may communicate your experience or view to others, but they aren’t great for building relations. Just how popular is the guy at parties who keeps talking about himself and listens to nobody else? Just like offline social life, being social online is a matter of listening and responding. It’s a new medium for behaviours man has cultivated for centuries.

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Network value = People x Relations

Whatever value you look for in your network, socializing, improving your knowledge, finding job opportunities or finding a spouse, the headline formula stays valid: the value of your network depends on who (and how many) are in your network and what kind of relationship you have with them.

Just having 168 friends on Facebook doesn’t bring you closer to any target whatsoever if you don’t nurture your relationship with them.

So how do you nurture relations online? There are some simple basics:

  • Standard: Help them to know who you are through your status updates
  • Stronger: Respond and comment on what they share (Simply, we appreciate more to get feedback on our stuff to reading just one more status update by someone else)
  • Share generously (I don’t mean all of your party pictures! Of your personality, knowledge and helping hands)

Regarding the “People” component of the formula, only you can know who are the best people to have in your network. But I do have a view on “how many”: The more, the merrier. Why? Three simple words: “You never know….” as in:

  • Who might have the answer to your question
  • Who will know someone you need to get hold of
  • Who may inspire you to make good choices
  • Who may put a smile on your face