In today’s world we can stay in touch easily, and there is no country boundaries limiting us. I am talking about social networking.
Maria Azua with her background as IBM Vice President has written the book: “The Social Factor”. Through her book she highlights the importance of social networking both in private and in organizations.
Mainly my focus and key elements will be concentrated towards the organization, and the use of professional networking tools.
Azua say companies are increasingly investing in social networking. But they routinely miss powerful opportunities to use networking to establish thriving, innovative communities of employees, partners, and customers. When talking of weak and strong ties the author point out that social networking in organizations can help to form and cultivate new weak ties and strengthening and maintaining strong ties.
The main purpose of social networking is to gain more knowledge and insights from people within and outside your organization. Internally networking will be an advantage with full transparency and openness in order to get contributions from your organization. Externally one need to take more care to avoid giving away business advantages.
When Azua is talking about knowledge she say: “the old adage “knowledge is power” remains true, but in the social age there is a shift underway. Individuals previously held information as a way to hold onto power. Now information is everywhere, and those who are most adept at sharing that information are the ones who suddenly have the power”.
The author gives us six areas within organizations where the greatest value in social networking is found: Teaming and collaboration, succession planning, recruitment and on – boarding, content and expertise capture, skills development and innovation.
Teaming and collaboration. Azua find this area as the primary drivers of social networking at most organizations, and the valuable support these tools provide to employees, business partners and clients. With these tools people get to know each other and it is leading to more effective team building and productivity.
Let’s move on to the area of succession planning. Here the networking tools provide the information vital to succession planning at all levels of the organization, and is more easily accomplished when expertise profiles and skills assessments are current and complete.
Recruitment and on – boarding is improved when you have access to social tools like LinkedIn.com, which can be used to advertise for and find potential hives.
Next on the area is content and expertise capture or the accumulation of tacit knowledge. Tacit knowledge is of huge importance for organizations, and is enhanced with social tools. Here Azua lead us to the next stages of social networking involvement such as contributing media ( can include spreadsheets and documents to more social forms as video and podcasts with presentations or screenshot content, blogs or lead new communities), new or updated content on wikis, and developing personal files.
Within skills development the author is talking about social networking to existing communities of expertise or interest, where you explore e – learning content which adds depth to those skills. With e – learning everybody can contribute content and users can have access to other learners, experts and communities.
Finally when going into innovation we are talking about the powerful impact of business. Azua say: “Great ideas and great innovations come from the minds of people, and socially networked innovation programs are a vital means for empowering people to effectively collaborate in an ever – more complex world”. She emphasize’s three primary vital functions to any effective innovation program: remove roadblocks, make wide use of social tools and finally get people excited.
Living in todays social age gives us many opportunities to communicate and enhance our knowledge. I listened to an interview with Alexandra Samuel, director of the Social + Interactive Media Centre. She talked about social web as very trendy with twitter as the most popular for time being, however networks changes fast. You have to find the right network for your organization, and in what need your professional goals are. You have to be able to transform your organization internally, and socially you can make more connections within your profession.
Azua quotes in an interview with Steve Mills, senior vice president of the IBM Software Group where he say: “We don’t force people to use social software tools, but to choose not to use them means you’re cutting yourself off from the best knowledge and experts in the organization”.
The Social Factor, “is about this tremendous revolution we are a part of – a revolution of low – cost communication an unprecedented social connection. This revolution is possible only because of the powerful and amazing Social Age tools at our disposal. For the users of social networking tools, they now wonder how they were able to live without them”.
Inger Lise E. Greger, MSc. Change Management