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With more organisations beginning to adopt social media as part of their daily work practices, it's important to pick up on some of the lessons learned from social media use out in the "real world"...
Have a human face
When you're working in a virtual organisation, where face-to-face contact is rare, it's really important to have a photo on your profile. We humans react to faces from birth. Without an image of the person to hang a conversation on, all you have is words, and sometimes voice.
Fill in your profile
Social media is often not actually that social. When you meet people face-to-face, a lot of the time is spent exploring points of commonality: where do you live, which school/university did you go to, who have you worked for, did you read such and such.
It's these little things that help to build a lasting working relationship.
Online, there's rarely the time for such chit chat. So we have to pre-empt it by giving out information up front.
Out in the real world, I try to have just one or two places where my profile (the things I want people to know about me) is kept up to date. At the moment, that's primarily LinkedIn. Every other profile I fill in just links back to that.
If you don't have a public profile yet, it's still important to have one within your work social media system. Choose a place you can link to easily, and put in as much detail as you can to help people gain a picture of who you are.
Narrate your work
Many social media systems contain an ongoing status update page, where everything that's done in the system is exposed to the rest of the community. Usually you can filter this down to just the projects or people you're interested in.
But that only covers the changes or updates the systems picks up automatically. It won't pick up the things that you're thinking about, or trying out. All this is important too.
As Andrew McAfee says:
Talk both about work in progress (the projects you're in the middle of, how they're coming, what you're learning, and so on), and finished goods (the projects, reports, presentations, etc. you've executed). This lets others discover what you know and what you're good at. It also makes you easier to find, and so increases the chances you can be a helpful colleague to someone. Finally, it builds your personal reputation and 'brand.'
See: Narrate your work
Make comments and links
Networks die when there are no connections being made. As new people enter the organisation, or new pieces of content get added, pull them into the network by linking to them and adding comments to the content. A strong network is one where links are constantly being made and refreshed.
Ask for help
It's OK not to know everything. In fact it's impossible to know everything. By asking for help you are giving yourself a learning opportunity, and also giving other people the opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge and skills in a public place.
These days, giving away your knowledge is one of the best ways of ensuring your place in the network (and hopefully your future in the organisation!)
This article started off being all my own work, but, on finding Andrew McAfee's Harvard Business Review article, it turns out that I'm using many of his ideas! So, if you want more on this, go to the source: http://blogs.hbr.org/hbr/mcafee/2010/09/dos-and-donts-for-your-works-s.html