Everybody seems to be social networking online these days, and many businesses have responded by implementing this technology into everyday culture. The benefits in making social networking an effective tool for business development rather than a distraction are highlighted in an article by Rheingold Associates, among which they mention:
- Provide an ongoing context for knowledge exchange that can be far more effective than memoranda.
- Attune everyone in the organization to each other’s needs – more people will know who knows who knows what, and will know it faster.
- Multiply intellectual capital by the power of social capital, reducing social friction and encouraging social cohesion.
- Create an ongoing, shared social space for people who are geographically dispersed.
- Amplify innovation – when groups get turned on by what they can do online, they go beyond problem-solving and start inventing together.
- Create a community memory for group deliberation and brainstorming that stimulates the capture of ideas and facilitates finding information when it is needed.
But can a social networks make a large organization feel closer? It is my belief that they can. In looking through my LN collegues on M-HC, I saw CEOs, VPs, and other senior staffers whose names I know, but who might not know mine. While I did not just reach right out and invite them to connect (doing so didn’t seem prudent without a present context), I did find that seeing them listed as potential contacts, especially when their profile included a picture, made me feel closer to them regardless.
I then got to thinking: social networks pose an opportunity for senior leadership to connect with their organization in new ways that feel more intimate than an email, all-employee call, or posting on an intranet. For example, the senior leader might find that posting a daily blog, a tidbit of information from lessons learned that day or an inspirational thought, connects them regularly to the workforce. Having discussion board topics, where all employees are encouraged to comment on the topic (and start their own), fosters innovation and creativity among the group. What if a senior leader reached out to an employee to invite them to connect b/c they saw an innovative blog post or discussion answer? This could be a new way to reward and recognize that feels personal and focused.
In short, online social networking is here to stay, we have only begun to tap it’s potential, and I’m sure there are many effective ways to use this tool that we haven’t even thought of. So what are your ideas?