Friday, September 4, 2009

How Your Business Can Profit with Social Technologies

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Nobody seems to agree on the benefits of internet social networking tools (LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.) for business. So far, the only real business use that most can argue is on the marketing side. I cannot deny that they are phenomenal way to reach people, but that is just one part of it.

It's clear to me that social networks have a place in the business world. Call it Enterprise 2.0 or whatever catch phrase you choose. At the end of the day, it is all about setting up a social network inside your company. But chances are your employees are already wasting enough time goofing off on Facebook. Why on Earth would you want to give them another social tool?

Good question. Two answers:
  1. Community building
  2. Firm wisdom
Community Building
Communities are built around shared ideas and beliefs. People pull together to rally around a cause. This is ingrained into the human condition. We are social animals and we like to be a part of a tribe. By offering your employees a community site, you will help them forge better ties to each other and you.

I realize there is a strong Tree Hugger-Save the Planet-Obama-Hippie vibe going on. I realize that is strange for this blog. However, You the Business Owner receives several benefits from all this Age of Aquarius-ness.
  1. Strong communities deal with trouble better
  2. Close communities support and help one other
  3. Tribe members are loyal to each other
  4. Communities identify natural leaders
  5. Communities police one another
I have seen 2 cases where a business owner gathered the workers and told them there were going to be no paychecks next week. The first time was at Prime Design, Inc., a company with a strong sense of community and obligation to one another. The second was at Golden Homes Corp. where there was no sense of loyalty or responsibility to the tribe. I think you can guess how each group reacted...

As you can guess, the crew at Golden Homes nearly rioted. But at Prime Design, some employees offered to take pay cuts if that would help the company!

Firm Wisdom
Every business has institutional memory. All those little bits and pieces of knowledge that make the job easier. All those accumulated tidbits that help you navigate the work. For lawyers it might be knowning what type of font is preferred by a certain judge. Or an accountant wants to share a particularly cool loophole with the entire team. Or maybe a salesman wants to note the keywords that seem to get a particular buyer's attention.

Firm Wisdom is all about using social network technology to capture and maintain that information. It's a digital warehouse of all the little bits of collective wisdom that your employees have picked up along the way. Mr. Bigshot Customer prefers raw sugar with his coffee. We ran out of space in file drawer "U" so we stored the rest in "X". Don't flush the second floor bathroom's third toilet during a thunder storm. And so forth.

All of this wisdom, once gathered together becomes Firm Wisdom - a resource your employees can share to help them do their jobs better.

With Firm Wisdom you can:
  • Cut training costs and time
  • Stop repeat questions
  • Enable smooth collaboration between workers
  • Tap into the collective intelligence of your entire organization
  • Build a strong business community even across geographic divisions
  • Enable key customers to provide feedback during R&D
  • Start building a tribe around your business
  • and much more.
The best part is that this is all free. It doesn't cost you a cent. All the technologies you need are available right now, for free. All you need is a business social network and you can start building Firm Wisdom.
"Wisdom is not a product of schooling but of the lifelong attempt to acquire it." ~Albert Einstein
Now What?
If you understand how a business social network can help you build a community and Firm Wisdom, then get started. If you see how this can benefit you, then get going. All the tools exist, all you need to do is start using them.

Don't know where to start, call me (305) 423-9574. I can help you get going.

R-Squared Computing - Business Technology Coaches

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