We are all working so hard to identify and garden communities among our clients or websites users that we often overlook the community closest to us – our colleagues.
This is mad. And it misses a great opportunity to learn.
If your colleagues already have a strong network within their business sector, they will create very strong communities when they move online.
Each and every community will develop differently. Do not miss a bit of it.
You need observe how each community behaves, learn from their actions and pass on best practice.
Here are three ways to cultivate you community at work.
1 Set up a Twitter profile just for them.
The people I learn from/follow on my Twitter profile are exclusively social/new media. I find it really distracting when anyone makes any comments outside the subject.
Listening to my colleagues – working across 15 different business sectors – is impossible. Yet I want and need to listen to and learn from their conversations.
I have set up a new Twitter profile where I follow all my colleagues on Twitter.
I’m only just getting my head around. I get to see what kinds of Tweets they are sending out and can give permission feedback (ie only after asking if they want it). I circulate good Tweets by colleagues to spread best practice. And I reTweet one or two of the most appropriate Tweets from my social/new media profile. I congratulate them on their good ideas.
They certainly do not have to follow me – they might be so focused on their own communities that they might find me a distraction.
2 Ask you colleagues to write a guest post on your blog
Many of my colleagues have taken only one or two steps into social media – perhaps a fresh look at their Facebook profile and a stab at Twitter. A blog is just one step too far.
Ask them to write a guest post for you. What is their experience of social media so far – remember they are real practitioners not early adopters so their experience is key to further developments? There will be no shortage of subjects.
Get them to add links. Ask them to add a list. Encourage them to choose the picture.
Once you have pushed the “publish” button, show them the traffic on a daily basis. Send them links to blogs that have picked up on their post. Show them how to Tweet out a link to their guest post on their Twitter.
Watch them as they experience the excitement of blogging from the safety of your own blog.
3 Introduce your colleagues to the new contacts you meet
Inevitably you build new contacts through social media. They are different from you colleagues at work coming from outside the usual recruitment silos of our businesses.
Both sides have much to learn from eachother: the early adopters begin to understand some of the slowness of traditional companies; the corporates begin to see that the early adopters are actually just like them.
Invite them into the office. Ask them to give a talk to your colleagues. Suggest a work placement that they might find useful.
Picture credit: adele.turner