Posts Tagged community

Community as a key to success; or, there’s Too Many Secrets

Posted by on Wednesday, 22 January, 2014

Digital StillCamera

One of the keys to long-term success is the involvement in community. You’ve likely heard me say that the only value in knowledge is not in applied knowledge but rather in shared knowledge. While applied knowledge of course has some value, it is in the sharing of knowledge where real and long-term impact value is seen, and where both substantial personal and business growth is achieved.

I was recently reading an article in The Register UK that highlighted this philosophy quite clearly. In the article, the author outlines how Amazon is beholden to open source projects but refrains from contributing back in any substantial or consistent fashion; that the corporate culture dissuades employees from engaging in community either through code contributions or even just conference presentations. The article goes on to say this same secrecy while providing some short-term advantages is now beginning to show some long-term problems as new talent is going elsewhere, to companies that encourage community engagement and allow developers to grow both inside and outside the company.

In the changing models of business, the traditional resume is losing ground to more social and visible methods of proving your value. As noted in the article, a GitHub profile is now a developer’s resume; it shows both skill in coding as well as contribution to the larger community as a good citizen. (The same could be said for a twitter/g+/ or blog for someone in a Social Business role, as they show capability and skill rather than simply tell like a resume does.) Any company that has a focus on long-term success (as all say they do) must encourage external knowledge sharing and contributions to communities both physical and virtual. If you can’t attract talented employees, stagnation and eventual collapse are your only future in business. Conversely, when you encourage employees to interact socially, to share and contribute with a philosophy that extends far beyond sycophantic protection of self-interest and into more philanthropic ventures the future of business suddenly becomes both innovative and lucrative.

This new way of doing business is no longer new. We are now a few years into the experience of social business, and are seeing some of the longer term effects now becoming evident. Effects like the shift of portfolios and resumes to online socially share-able media, where showing is more important than telling, and where sharing knowledge is more important than simply having knowledge. The sooner companies figure out things have changed and to stay relevant means adopting community engagement models to collectively share knowledge, the better off we will all be as we navigate these new paradigms of work and economy.

It all reminds me of the 1992 movie Sneakers: there’s “Too Many Secrets”. But, instead of a nefarious plot to collapse the world economy, today we can use social sharing to avoid having too many secrets which will in turn allow us to adapt and change to new models of business and successful enterprise by sharing knowledge across communities.


YOU are a community manager

Posted by on Wednesday, 22 August, 2012

Yes, you.

Ok, ok , ok…. *maybe* you aren’t, but I have a feeling that you probably are even if you don’t think so. Hang in here with me for a bit as I explain why I’m nearly certain you actually *are* a community manager.

It isn’t JUST you, of course; we are all community managers if we’re playing in social spaces. What I am specifically referring to is the idea that we each own responsibility for the content we post in social spaces, and in turn we own responsibility for the comments generated by (and added to) those posts. As active members in social networks, we create our own ad hoc communities every time we post content, be it a status updated about what we had for lunch or a longer missive on a facet of today’s society. In each case, we own the responsibility of managing these ad hoc communities just like a ‘formal’ community manager would. Likewise, when we comment on other’s posts, we are engaging as a member of their  community and have the responsibility to act accordingly.

The example is clear: If you make a post to Facebook or any other social site, you own that ad hoc community generated by the comments. Likewise, if you comment on someone else’s post, you own responsibility to add value to the conversation and respect their ad hoc community as well.

With today’s accelerated shift to social platforms, the role of community manager is increasingly important but the definition needs to be expanded to include not only the formalized and structured communities, but also the unstructured, ad hoc, fluid communities. We are all community managers to some extent now, and need to manage not only our own posts, but the threads of conversation which they generate.

If you’ve been following me for any length of time on any of my social channels you’ve likely heard me espouse the brilliance of IBM’s Social Computing Guidelines. While I may be biased, I do believe that even if I weren’t an IBMer, I’d still be highlighting the SCG as a work of genius when it comes to corporate policy to guide employees in social business. But it goes even beyond that… these are wonderful guidelines beyond the immediate intended audience of IBMers… (I’ve cherry picked the ones which are really universal):

  • Be who you are.
  • Be thoughtful about how you present yourself in online social networks.
  • Respect copyright and fair use laws.
  • Respect your audience and your coworkers.
  • Add value.
  • Don’t pick fights.
  • Be the first to respond to your own mistakes.
  • Adopt a warm, open and approachable tone.
  • Use your best judgment.

Aren’t those genius in their simplicity?

As we look with new eyes on our own social communities, we can all benefit from the simple guidance put forth above, as these bits are relevant as universal truths to social interaction. Now that we can recognize our own responsibilities for the communities we’ve built around us, we need now (more than ever) the tools to help guide us through some of those inevitable missteps we will make (or have made) along the way.

This is the new universal truth. Gone are the early days of the internet where we were just participants in one huge community. Now we are all individually responsible for managing our spaces and ensuring our formal and ad hoc communities are adding value to the spaces. As we join in these new and upcoming realms of conversation, we all need to recognize the responsibilities we have and gauge whether or not we are ready to take on that extra burden that comes with participating in social discussions.

If you are posting content to any social channel, you are already managing your communities, whether you realize it or not. It is upon us as individual contributors to ensure we are bringing value to and taking ownership of the spaces in which we play. Our successes depend upon it.


(Orignally posted May 18th, 2012 at Notes from Rational Support)

On personal digital eminence, an aside

Posted by on Thursday, 20 January, 2011

I’d initially intended to post here on this topic, in a more personal less work-centric method and perspective. But I quickly realized as I began writing, that the topic its self lent more readily to a professional post on “Notes from Rational Support“. This was originally posted there on Jan 20, 2011:

Personal eminence has been on my mind a bit lately, which has led me to take a few actions of my own including my individual addition of an About.Me profile to signpost my own eminence in the digital spaces. You’re going to read that phrase (digital personal eminence) a LOT below, so let me quickly define that out for you: eminence is a position of distinction or superiority. Personal digital eminence, then, is about the power of your electronic presence as a brand; your individual distinction on the web. I’m working to improve mine, and Rational Client Support’s of course, but that is easier said than done.

We all know the big brands online. I am guessing you can easily name 5 right off the top of your head without even trying. Individual -people- are a bit more difficult to identify, though I am sure you could still easily name 5 within a short amount of time. These are brands and individuals who likely have rock-star status across the globe; the ones which are known beyond social or cultural boundaries. But that is only the tip of eminence, as both brands and people need to be knowledgeable in their areas in order to really solidify their standings.

In a general context like this, it is very difficult to gain that level of eminence without being a large-scale celebrity. But what if we look at particular contexts within spaces that are important to us? The spaces in which we play on a daily basis…  Personal eminence in these contexts can be seen all around you. In the support world this is displayed by those whom are always readily answering questions or sought after for advice. Personal -digital- eminence is just as easily seen if you are involved in forums, user communities, or subscribe to blogs or RSS feeds: it is found in the people you follow, the people who are visible, the people who are always learning and more importantly -sharing- in the digital realms.

Building this personal digital eminence for yourself, however, isn’t overly difficult, and is ultimately important for you as well as for your company whether it is IBM or a small unknown start-up. Individually, personal eminence is a direct influence on career success. Now imagine a company which boasts a large number of individuals who all have some level of personal digital eminence… you’re likely imagining a very successful company that has a solid, trust-worthy brand backing it up; a company who’s name elicits that sense of reliability, much like IBM, I’m guessing.

A quick connection of the roll up from personal to corporate eminence should tell you exactly how important this can be to individuals and businesses alike. It is for this reason that I encourage everyone to join the conversations in your spaces, as yourselves; to step forward and take control of your own personal digital eminence.

Of course, participation alone isn’t enough. Not only do you need to be active in your communities and networks, but you need to be authentic as well. Don’t be afraid to stand out as a subject matter expert, but don’t try and pretend you’re one if you aren’t. Take criticisms in stride and admit mistakes when they happen (oh, and they will happen). Be open and honest with your opinions, and listen to others as well. Genuine communication is not only a key to building eminence, but also a good life skill as well! Of course, it is this kind of authenticity paired with activity which will skyrocket your personal digital eminence to new heights, improving your company’s brand eminence as well as your own career.

I’ll ask you now to heed this as a call to action for both IBMers and the public alike: Get out there and distinguish yourself in -your- space. Be passionate, become the subject matter experts, give back to the communities and forums you frequent, and become your own individual brand. Only you can control your personal digital eminence, but it can benefit so many more!

Image credit: (cc) flickr user RambergMediaImages