Part 10 of the Social Business For Real Work series

The Challenge

In large, and even mid-sized, companies it is often difficult to find the right person who can contribute their expertise to a particular project or task. Few organizations maintain an up-to-date record of the key skills of employees, and even if they do, this is usually too broad and superficial to be of real use.

The Social Business Advantage

An Enterprise Social Network provides a variety of ways of finding expertise within an organisation.

  • Member profiles provide employees a mechanism for describing their skills and knowledge, enabling other members to search for relevant people.
  • Narrating your work not only tells everyone what each employee is working on now, it provided a searchable archive of what they have worked on in the past
  • Communities of interest bring together employees who have expertise in a particular subject with those who want to learn more about it.
  • Content rating allows members to provide feedback on the contributions of other members, enabling the most valued participants in discussions to be identified and rewarded.

Example

Brad has a sales opportunity at a large multi-national healthcare company. The potential customer has a number of questions about how the products being proposed conform to a variety of different regulations in countries across the world. This is an area that neither Brad nor his immediate circle of contacts have much experience in, so he searches through the network members in the hope of finding someone with more knowledge of the subject.

As the company encourages all members to complete detailed profiles, including experience gain in previous jobs, Brad quickly discovers that Jessica, a relatively new recruit to the product management team, has 5 years experience working in healthcare and can provide useful insight into this subject.

 

The customer also has some detailed questions about data security. This is a topic that has a very active community of interest on the company social network. After a quick read through a few of the discussions, Brad notices that Ben from the product engineering team regularly gets very good content ratings for his contributions.

 

Checking through Ben’s weekly blog posts on his active projects, Brad sees that Ben has helped out sales with security questions on a couple of occasions in the last year. So Brad makes contact with Ben as a first step in getting the questions answered.

 

Make It Real

  • Encourage all network members to use their member profile a showcase of their knowledge and expertise, making it easier for other members to find them. This should include a summary of current and previous projects, and links to useful content the member has created.
  • Implement a “narrate your work” policy, asking each employee to provide a commentary (however brief) of what they are currently working on, what they’ve learned from this, and the challenges they are currently facing.
  • Encourage a culture of feedback where all network members are encouraged to give feedback on content they have used through content rating and comments. This helps identify and reward the most valued contributors to the network.