Archive for Networks + Networking
by Patti Anklam
Having covered the 3 KMs (Big, Little, and Personal), it seems natural to move along to the net work aspect of these. (Net work is my term for bringing intentionality into the way that we behave in our networks and acknowledging that it is, indeed, work.)
I need to start with personal net work, because I alluded to it in my last post, and because I will be talking about it this Thursday at the Boston KM Forum. I’ll start with some assertions:
- In the current “generation” of knowledge management, we look for knowledge in the network (as opposed to in documents and archives (1st generation) and in collaboration with others (2nd generation). Knowledge is literally in the network.
- As we learn and work (and vice versa), we need to know how to tap into that knowledge, and into the context in which it is expressed, when we need it, as soon as we need it.
- Our access to the context of knowledge in the network is through our personal connections, of which we must be mindful. We are, in a sense, our networks.
- The science of social networks has been advancing steadily since 1999/2000, providing us with ways to talk about the purpose, structure, style, and value-producing characteristics of networks.
- The tools we use daily (blogging, tweeting, generating and consuming content in multiple ways and multiple places) have co-evolved with the knowledge of the science of networks.
- We now have much more richly complex ways of understanding and managing our personal networks, to the benefit of our learning and knowledge sharing strategies.
1. Knowledge is in the network. I’ve previously blogged on this topic, referencing my first formulation of the 3 generations of KM in 2005. How little I knew at that time of Web 2.0 and its impact. We what want to know, what we need to know, what we may be delighted to know, is all out there, discoverable and available.
2. Tapping into the knowledge. It started with Internet search engines (anybody remember AltaVista?) and has progressed to include the ability to filter, through tagging systems, RSS feeds, and (when available) ranking and voting systems. It’s out there, really. Artifacts will always be with us, and now we are drowning in them.
3. We are our networks (our social networks, that is). If there were any doubts before about the impact of those around us on our behaviors, you need look no further than the amazing work Connected, by Nicholas A. Christakis and James H. Fowler (a long excerpt appeared in the September 10 New York Times, “Are Your Friends Making You Fat?” ).
In our personal professional networks, we are also tied to the behaviors and sources of knowledge of those we interact with, where interactions include subscribing to and commenting on others’ blogs, sharing information on social network sites like LinkedIn and Facebook, responding to other’s comments on our own blogs or edits we have made to wikis, following and retweeting people on Twitter and browsing their tags on Del.icio.us. And most important: turning (when we can) our attention to their links, to topics they find interesting, people they enjoy reading or following, and gaining access to their network of networks.
These interactions — even if ambient — provide us the context. I know my colleagues’ areas of expertise, their hot buttons, their styles. If one of them is excited about something, I have context for looking at it and making sense of what it might mean to me. When a number of people tweet the same news or retweet the same bon mot, I know that my community is bonding around a shared meme. These may be small things, but I am the sum of all that my networks bring to me, of all the people in my networks. I am my network.
4. The science of networks. When I talk about the science of networks, I am talking about the research and discoveries in the multi-disciplinary field of social networks over that past half century or more. At the heart of this work is that you can actually draw maps of networks (“social graphs”) that will show you patterns of connectivity, interactivity, separation, similarities, and dissonances. We also have, through research by Rob Cross and colleagues at the Network Roundtable, a theory-based understanding of the characteristics of a good personal network as well as evidence that
- individuals with stronger personal networks
- managers who maintain awareness of the organizational networks
are more successful.
5. Our tools are co-evolving. I recently published a journal article, Ten Years of Net Work ($$) that provides my personal experience in how social tools have evolved over the past ten years. I live on the opposite coast from Silicon Valley, but my imagination conjures scenes of network scientists and software entrepreneurs talking about how to leverage this cool network stuff and coming up with LinkedIn, Facebook, and all the other tools we now take for granted. It is still the case that most of these platforms require us to create distinct “networks” and that these all overlap to a greater or lesser extent. It will still be a while before we can move freely among our networks, as ourselves, changing our frame of reference, but staying ourselves.
6. Managing our personal networks. This is the big, “So What?” If we say we are our networks, then how do we assert ourselves in our own definition? And what does it matter whether or not we do? It matters, and we can do something about it:
- Avoid the pitfalls of hanging out in too many networks where everyone thinks alike (I blogged on this in August). Think about the diversity of your network.
- Think about your network as a personal learning network. What engages you now, what knowledge will you need to take the next step (in your career, in finishing a work project, in solving a problem for your client, to research a topic for a conference presentation)? Do you have people in your network who have the expertise you seek?
- Follow people whose work you admire. Look for opportunities to retweet, comment, or interact. These interactions should be both authentic and of value to the person you want to connect with. Then look for opportunities to connect face to face at conferences, to collaborate, or to contribute to their work.
Lately, I’ve taken to hang out with hashtags. If someone tweets a conference tag, I follow the tag and usually find some of my friends, but new people as well. It also works to search on topic and and see it there is a hashtag. Follow the stream and find new people. Participate, ask questions, retweet.
Managing — being mindful — okay, let’s call it personal network mindfulness — your network also implies maintaining the existing relationships that are important to you. As we used to sing when I was in the Brownie Scouts, “Make new friends/but keep the old/One is silver/and the other gold.”
by Ivana Taylor
The following is a guest post by Ivana Taylor, a member of the Small Business Trends Expert Network.
Just about every day I have a conversation with a small business owner who gets over 90% of their business strictly from referrals. That doesn’t surprise me. What DOES surprise me is how uncomfortable these individuals are with social media tools.
The most common question small business owners ask is “How will this make me money?”
This is the wrong question. Social media is not a money-making machine. Social media is a relationship building machine.
It’s the most amazing networking and referral building machine since the telephone!
If you have a system for selling your products and services, why wouldn’t you have a system for building your network? Yet, most people don’t. That’s why I’m going to share five social media tools and show you how to use them in specific ways to turbo-charge your networking.
1. Facebook is one of the fastest growing networking tools among professionals and small business owners. You can create a fan page or a group around your company or product, then invite your contacts to join.
- Turbo-tip: Use the fan/business pages and groups to ask questions about what’s important to your group or inform them of new product offerings and specials. These pages are interactive and allow for comments and pictures to be posted. So don’t be shy about putting up pictures of people or products and ask for comments. The real value is in the conversation that you have with your group or fans.
2. LinkedIn. The power of LinkedIn lies in your level of discipline to using this networking tool creatively. If you haven’t created a group or company page, do it today! Be sure to make a point of telling all your contacts that you have one.
- Turbo-tip: In addition to listing job titles and companies you’ve worked for – add other “roles” that you’ve played. For example create a title called “Committee Chair” and list the non-profit or Church organization that you led. If you’ve written a book list “Author” as a title and the name of your book as a company. If you’re a “speaker” then say so and list the topic that you speak about. This gives people the opportunity to see you as an expert in a variety of areas.
3. Twitter. So many people use Twitter to “advertise” their product or service. In reality, Twitter is a powerful tool to increase your sphere of influence. Twitter allows you to actually build relationships with centers of influence and connect with people who may have appeared to be “too big” or “too out of reach” to connect to. Chances are pretty good that if you talk to someone via Twitter, they will talk back. Take that opportunity to build on the relationship.
- Turbo-tip: Use the Twitter Search feature to search on keywords from your industry. For example “real estate investor” will yield all the tweets that use those words in the 140 character message. Take the time to check out those profiles and start a conversation with anyone who is interesting to you.
4. Blitztime.com. If you really want to take networking virtual and digital, take a look at Blitztime.com. This is a subscription service that serves as both a networking and an accountability group for its members. Check out the existing groups and see if any of them are interesting to you. There are groups of CEOs, social media junkies, and even job searchers. This is a great solution for networking from your desktop.
5. QuoteActions. Rick Itzkowich was looking for a way to re-connect with people he had met networking AND he wanted to add some value too. This is how he came up with QuoteActions. This is a simple subscription service that will allow you to send the people you meet a daily quote that they can use to improve their business and their life.
- Turbo-Tip: When you meet someone at an event, send them a QuoteAction invitation in an e-mail. If they subscribe to your quotes, you will appear in their mailbox every day. It’s a wonderful way to stay in touch and give value.
The last and final Turbo-Tip of them all is not a tip, but a necessity for new businesses, existing businesses that want to grow, or job hunters: work on your social networking every single day. Using these social media tools will allow you to build a broader network without leaving your desk.
About the Author: Ivana Taylor is CEO of Third Force, a strategic firm that helps small businesses get and keep their ideal customer. She’s the co-author of the book “Excel for Marketing Managers” and proprietor of DIYMarketers, a site for in-house marketers.
by Jenny Ambrozek
Subtitled “Tapping Online Social Networks to Build Better Products, Reach New Audiences, and Sell More Stuff” the book is a must read, and especially useful as a primer for those still needing to understand the fundamental changes in doing business as the Internet has matured from Web 1.0 to:
“an entirely new level with Web 3.0- an era that is entirely about innovation and collaboration.” (Foreword page ix)
An excellent overview of the book, in author Clara Shih’s own words, is in 2 parts at the Entrepreneur’s Journeys blog . Not surprizingly the book’s home page is on Facebook and 24 x 5 star Amazon reviews indicate the book’s value.
The book section titles– starting with “A Brief History of Social Media’ through “Transforming the Way We Do Business’ to “Your Step-By-Step Guide to Using Facebook for Business”– reveal the key themes. Reflecting the author’s hands on experience as the developer of FaceConnector and head of Enterprise Social Networking Alliances and Product Strategy for Salesforce, the book is filled with lived experiences of companies using social networking to “build better products, reach new audiences and sell more stuff.”
If there are gaps in the book they reflect the state of the industry. For example, “The ROI of Social” is addressed in half a page (205) beginning:
“Understandably, a large number of you are focused on ROI and might feel frustrated that there has been no clear quantifiable data around ROI”
and concludes suggesting;
“ROI will become much more quantifiable and standardized”.
Have you read “The Facebook Era?” What did you take away?
~ Jenny Ambrozek
by Jon Husband
Fellow networked-world thinker, theorist and author Ross Dawson and colleagues carried out research sponsored by IBM about the views of australian executives regarding the use of social networks and social computing in the enterprise.
The report titled “Enterprise Social Network Strategy” was released in November 2008. That seems like forever-ago in today’s world … hardly fresh news, but it had not come to my attention until now, and I think it’s still quite germane given that we’re somewhere in the early stages of a massive shift in the way organizations carry out work and deal with ongoing change.
Here, excerpted from his blog post announcing the release of the report, are some quoted views from the Australian executives.
Quotes from senior Australian executives in the report include:
“Our trial of social networks is going exceptionally well – there is very positive feedback from employees. They see it as a personal touch that improves their enjoyment of the work environment.”
“What if I have one of my best performers spending an hour a day on Facebook – do I really want to stop them?”
“We’ve pretty much taken the view that most people come to work to do a good job.”
“The whole organisation is about collaboration. So the area of social networks is really critical for us, particularly if we want to provide a seamless service delivery to the client.”
“The credit crunch has been a good thing. In good times it takes organisations a long time to look at new things but in times of difficult business we are more ready to see that we need to consider change. The way we market our products is going to be different.”
“For Gen Y, social networking is much more open than traditional computing. Look at gaming. They have a collective mindset – achieving common goals is more important to them. They either win together or they don’t win. ”
“We don’t have a single employee that is not highly computer literate. Everyone is on Facebook.”
“We are serious about finding ways to engage people. We have to compete for talent.”
“The way products and services are sold in our industry will be vastly different to how it is done today”
“We have an evolving strategy. Fail fast and cheap. We’re finding that’s the best strategy.”
The report can be freely downloaded from:
by Jim Ware
(this is a slightly edited and updated version of a post from The Future of Work blog. The original version is here.
First, look at this chart showing the shift from “real” interaction to reliance on electronic media (it comes directly from the article that stimulated this post – Well Connected? The Biological Implications of Social Networking“)
Now, I am as enthusiastic about social networking technologies and their ability to connect us with friends and colleagues all over the planet as the next person, but Marc Van Eeckhoudt just sent me the article that includes that chart.
It’s just been published in Biologist, a British magazine: “Well Connected? The Biological Implications of Social Networking.”
The core message in the article: more and more people are becoming “loners,” and that’s really dangerous for their health. Unfortunately it is not clear from this article whether or not people who rely primarily on electronic means of communication can overcome those health risks.
Read the rest of this entry »
by Jenny Ambrozek
Appropriately via Twitter this morning I found a post by @johnt both marking the occasion of Twitter’s 3rd birthday and making the case for why Twitter is the Killer App.
Can Twitter really be 3 years old? Wikipedia confirms and provides this history:
“Twitter was founded by Jack Dorsey, Noah Glass, Biz Stone, and Evan Williams. It began in March 2006 as a research and development project inside San Francisco podcasting company Odeo. Odeo was co-founded by Noah Glass and blogger Evan Williams. In October 2006, the company was bought out by management, and Williams, Stone, and other Odeo employees started another company named Obvious Corp. to operate Odeo and Twitter, another startup Williams had been testing in the offices for about a year. Twitter had been initially used internally by Odeo’s employees and became a product of Obvious at this time.
The service rapidly gained popularity: In March 2007, it won the 2007 South by Southwest Web Award in the blog category. Dorsey, the man behind the concept of Twitter, gave the following playful acceptance speech at SXSW: “We’d like to thank you in 140 characters or less. And we just did!”
John Tropea’s blog post scanning the Twitter landscape and spelling out the case for microblogging as a productivity tool is recommended reading. (The AppGap’s Jon Husband is quoted.) However, the assertion catching my attention was this:
“Most of all it is the perfect example of defining a new generation, away from the economic model of self-gain, and more to a social connection, collective, and engaged model.”
Does Twitter’s rapid rate of adoption and popularity in fact signal the arrival of an economic model based on engagement?
If so, what are the implications?
~ Jenny Ambrozek
by Jim Ware
Older entries »
I’ve come across several posts and articles recently that have gotten me thinking about the pros – and cons – of working independently.
Generally I am a serious advocate of small firms and free-lancers and a genuine cynic about large organizations (but I’ll hold back and express that cynicism some other time).
A friend recently pointed me to a post by Tina Brown on The Daily Beast (one of those many, many political blogs). I don’t read the Beast very often, but this one isn’t about it politics - it’s about “The Gig Economy.”
“Gigs” are, obviously, projects – the things we free-lancers and small businesses depend on for a living.
Brown has become intrigued with what she calls “gigonomics” – the explosion of people working this way. She reports on a recent survey conducted by The Daily Beast and Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates. Five hundred employed U.S. citizens aged 18 and over were interviewed via the Internet on January 8 and 9.
Here’s what got Brown interested:
A full one-third of our respondents are now working either freelance or in two jobs. And nearly one in two of them report taking on additional positions during the last six months.
Just as startling, these new alternative workers are not overwhelmingly low-income. They’re college-educated Americans who earn more than $75,000 a year.
Welcome to the club Tina! Regular readers of this blog are probably all practitioners of gigonomics. So what’s the big deal?
Consider this, for one: none of the job statistics we’ve been hearing about daily since last September come close to measuring the impact of the economy-on-free-fall on small businesses. Traditional unemployment data comes from reports from large businesses and applications for unemployment compensation. It just doesn’t capture the slowdown or flat-out stoppages of work being experienced by all of us small business types.
Just about all the “gigworkers” I’ve talked with recently are reporting that while they may have a project right now, the outlook for the next gig is pretty bleak. In fact, that’s being kind – the outlook is grim indeed.
Now, there’s either going to be a whole lot of creative scrambling (and some pretty intense competition) for the next gigs, or there’s going to be a whole more people “on the street” (hopefully not literally) than even the most thoughtful economists and government leaders seem to be expecting.
This thing could get a whole lot worse way before it gets any better.
But there’s another side to this explosion of small businesses and gigs. And that’s what Jon Husband wrote about just the other day right here (“The Mass Customization of Work“). A more or less unrecognized consequence of this mass customization of work and the “atomization” of business is the loss of rhythm and synchronization that Jon highlighted.
When we’re all working independently and in our own offices (either at home or at Starbucks, etc) it takes a whole lot more effort and awareness to “sync up” with peers, colleagues, clients, vendors, and so on. We no longer have all those “signals” from the workplace that you see in large organizations – from the mundane clock on the wall to the progression of colleagues towards the cafeteria or the parking lot at lunchtime – let alone the boss scheduling meetings, directing your work, setting deadlines, and so on. And of course we’re not doing anywhere near as much “same time/same place” work as we used to.
As Jon rightly points out, thank god for the proliferation of Web 2.0 social networking tools – though we still have a lot to learn about people use them.
Anyway, this all something to think about on a Monday morning – and one that’s supposed to be focused on national service instead of ruminating on the future of work. I guess I’m just a bit out of sync with everyone else!