Want Better Project Communication – Make Your Project The Center Of All Things

Projects are rarely simple local events anymore. Teams are global, multi-culture, multi-lingual, and more complex than ever before. The ease of co-located team communications has been lost with the advent of time and distance. Keeping the stakeholders and team members engaged is essential, so project managers have had to find new and state-of-the-art ways to make project communications happen.

Enter the practice of Social Project Management. Social PM mixes the best elements of traditional project management with digital collaboration and communications tools. It provides an agile way to manage project data and information flow in an accessible, transparent, and secure manner.

The way I do this is by making the project, not the data or the communication medium, the center of all things; the project is our ’email hub,’ the ‘inbox,’ the ‘file archive.’ The project portal (aka the digital project center) is where all data and information flows. The project is dynamic and takes on its own vital life as the glue of the team. The benefits are vast. The PM is no longer a roadblock or taskmaster in the center of communications. Status is immediate.

PERSONAL ACCOUNTABILITY: A positive benefit of using social tools is personal accountability. Social communications by its nature makes every team member’s work transparent, and visibility forces accountability (at least on my projects).

THE PROJECT IS THE THING: When the project is the center of everything, everything is organized around the actual work tasks and not the tools used to communicate (email) or store information. This is true projectization. The beauty of working using social tools on a project is that the work assignments are clear to everyone (because they are written), each team member sees what other team members are doing (because the applications are universally visible and available), the team gets out of ’email jail’ (because activity streams are fluid lists), tasks are maintained and supported in a collaborative manner, and, most importantly, working in a social manner allows people to determine the appropriate level of engagement that they need to get their job done.

WHAT I LEARNED FROM CO-LOCATION

Don’t get me wrong, there are many positive things about having your team in the same physical space. When teams are co-located they have a degree of team awareness. Most people don’t realize the amount of constant communication and sharing that goes on in the day to day office environment. When you are face-to-face you have visual cues and other benefits that make a team cohesive. For example, many teams eat lunch together. They spend time whiteboarding, brainstorming and sharing ideas, both good and bad. Many times, they play outside games (bowling, softball) as a team (wearing team t-shirts). Team members know the state of the project they are on because, as a team, they live and breathe it every day, sometimes 7 days a week

As the size of my teams grew and projects became global, multicultural, and more complex, time and distance between the team members hampered team awareness. The co-located dynamic that made us feel like a team was gone. I noticed that communications started to become more and more compartmentalized. People seemed only to pay attention to THEIR tasks and were less concerned with the project as a whole. Information flow became a battle and email overload was common. It was getting harder and harder to get dispersed teams to perform at the same high level of delivery as when they were co-located.

WELCOME TO SOCIAL LOCATION

In the interim period, when teams were being globalized, before collaborative tools were common, there was a definite period of communication breakdown and a loss of team cohesiveness. This was killing delivery and productivity. Around 2007, with major shifts in technology (Apple shipped the first iPhone, Google launched Android, and IBM develop Watson), many of us started to leverage social media and social collaboration software, mixing the best elements of traditional project management with digital collaboration and communications tools. Some called it ‘Social Project Management,’ others were calling it ‘Project Management 2.0,’ but regardless of a name, by leveraging social tools on projects we kept the team, as well as stakeholders, up-to-date through active information streams and ambient online status updates. “This is what put the ‘social’ in social project management.

It was social networking services, like Twitter, that gave us a different paradigm when it came to information updates on our projects. No longer did we need to receive, open, read, engage, respond, and then archive an email. With small bursts of information (Twitter’s original 140 characters), we kept in touch with precise, to the point, informational snippets, where we learned what was going on in the project in real time from the team players. By reading a stream of information (think Facebook News Feed) my teams are able to know what is going on from the larger distributed team as things are posted.

AMBIENT AWARENESS: One of my goals on every project for the last decade has been to continue to improve ambient awareness for the team. “Ambient Awareness is the idea of being “ambiently aware” of another’s actions, thoughts, and experiences without having to be near them physically.” My teams are constantly ‘in’ the workflow and distributed processes of the project moment by moment. It is our ‘collective present.’ If you harness it, you will be surprised at how data-driven information can elevate your project team to a new level of communications.

Are you connecting with your teams and clients using social media or social collaboration tools? How are you leveraging your ‘collective present?’ What have you found to be the best way to keep distributed teams connected? Let me know. And remember to keep up the good attitude.

Virtual Communications: I’m Sorry, Who Are You?

I am sure that you have heard this one: “If a tree falls in a forest, and there is no one there to hear it, does it make any noise?”

No matter how impressive your ideas, or how creative your message, if you are not reaching other people through the internet, you have no digital reputation. If no one reads your blog, or your website, or sees your comments, then in the digital world, you basically don’t exist. You might as well be talking to the wall. This will not help you in business.

Building your reputation in cyberspace is not much different than the tried and true “old neighborhood” way of getting things done. When people lived in small towns, everybody knew everyone, and everyone knew everyone’s personal and professional business (think Andy Griffith’s Mayberry ). Towns and villages were self-monitoring. Children all went to the same school, most people went to the same church/temple, and the businesses serviced the local population. (And as Garrison Keiller believed, “All the children were above average.”) If the butcher was skimping on your cut of meat, everyone knew. If a child, or adult, was misbehaving, the community would ultimately bring them in line (think Harper Valley PTA). Everyone had a stake in the outcome of their actions because they knew they would be held accountable to their family and neighbors. In many ways, social media has brought us back to those days – the days of being part of a community.

Facebook has become the town square, or maybe even as intimate as your living room. When you have something to share about your life, you ‘STATUS’ it.  LinkedIn has become your office. When a business is doing something right, you ‘LIKE’ it and you ‘SHARE’ it. Ideas are ‘Tweeted’ across the globe like they used to be discussed at the local diner. In business, your expertise is ‘Googled’ and your community is built through ‘LinkedIn’ connections.  The pace is different, but the concept is the same: it is your community that stands behind you and supports you and helps you succeed, and your community is now online and talking.

Here are 4 reasons why you need to start using social media (immediately if not sooner):

1.  Everyone is using it.

That’s right. Your kids have been using it for as long as they can remember, but more importantly, companies, your company, my company, and the next company you want to work for, is using it. (Check out “Ranking the Top 100 Global Brands” and see how Dell, Toyota, Starbucks, and others are using social media)

Social media is part of our lives and it is not going away. Basically, adapt or die! (I know that is harsh but I think it is true.  “Adapt or Die” is the title of Chapter 1, of Socialized!: How the Most Successful Businesses Harness the Power of Social, by Mark Fidelman.)

2.  People are talking and they may be talking about you.

If you do not use social media, you are abdicating control of your personal message. Whether personal or business, people are talking, so why not make sure that you are in the conversation. Jeff Bullus, the author of “Blogging The Smart Way,” says that “The thing to keep in mind about brands that don’t want to engage in Social Media is that these conversations are going on about you whether you are there or not, and whether you want to hear it.”

I am sorry to break it to you but… your High School friends are talking about you on Facebook and pictures of your dog are on Instagram. But more importantly, your boss’s boss just ‘Tweeted’ about a new product that she thinks may be the next big thing and you missed it. I really think you want to be in the conversation.

3.   You have a passion, communicate it.

ringleader_yelling_thru_megaphone_sm_wht_23454Everyone has at least one story that they love to tell others. When you recite it, the whole room gets quiet and everyone listens. That, my blog friends, is the ‘it’ factor, your passion – the topic that makes your eyes sparkle. Maybe it is your recent trip to Paris or pictures of the baby, for many, it is their profession (I can wax for hours on project management), or something political like Global Warming. Do you love to tell people your ideas on building a better mousetrap, or a unique way to solve a tricky business problem? There is a passion in you and a story to tell.

Once you narrow in on your personal brand, social media gives you the ability to communicate to a wide audience. Sharing your thoughts, your views, your passions, helps to build an authentic picture of your expertise and let’s people know what value you bring to the global conversation.

Allison Graham, in her book “From Business Cards to Business Relationships: Personal Branding and Profitable Networking Made Easy,” says that “The two most predictable questions that will be asked when you meet someone are, “Do you have a business card?” and “What do you do?”  Your digital business card should communicate what you are passionate about. This is your chance to show your stuff.

4.   Patience. Your audience will grow and so will you.

Remember the ‘old neighborhood’ that I was talking about, well it now has gone digital. Whether it is your local church group or what Etienne Wenger calls a “community of practice” (a group primarily made of practitioners in a field or profession who are passionate about the work that they do), they are all connecting through social media. People want to be connected and they are connecting through online communities in the millions.   In the end, it is your communities that will be your biggest supporters and where you will grow your online reputation. (Check out Design to Thrive: Creating Social Networks and Online Communities that Last, by Tharon Howard)

Do you really need more reasons to start using social media? Here’s an easy way to add to your online reputation immediately: leave a comment below and connect with me now on LinkedIn. Welcome to my digital family.

6 Ways To Cure Social Media Resistance

fishAre you feeling like a fish out of water?  Do you feel overwhelmed by the social web revolution?  Well, if you do, you are in good company.  I have talked to many people lately, both non-technical and technical, who are avoiding using social media as much as possible, and have a long list of reasons why.

How does one keep up with all the changes and the new speed of social interaction on the web?  What if you don’t want to spend all your time on-line?  How does one deal with the onslaught of information and social networks?

Bisnode reported that 90% of the worlds data has been generated in only the last two years, no wonder people’s heads are swimming.  Here are some thoughts on what we should all be doing to deal with natural social media resistance.

1.  Give Up to Keep Up

Sometimes I think that I am the only person in the universe experiencing overload from all this digital data that is flowing into my computer, my smartphone, my TV, and my head.  Then I realize that no one, and I mean NO ONE, can keep up with this data flow, unless you are a machine.  So, first thing to understand is that you need to give up trying to keep up with the data flow, because you can’t win that one.

The internet has significantly changed the way we do business.  And social media has changed the way we manage information.  The rules have changed.  This is part of the reason so many of us are uncomfortable.  Take email, for example, something that has been around now for many years and is probably a significant part of your life.  You know what is expected of you around email rules and etiquette. If someone sends you an email, they expect an email back.  If they don’t get one, they send a reminder.  But, if someone ‘likes’ your comment on Facebook or Twitter, no response is required or expected.  Today’s social media moves much faster and uses different rules. You need to give up your old rules because they don’t apply to the new platforms.  To keep up, you need to give up your old rules.

2.  Pull up the shade at least half way.

tompetersAlmost daily, people over the age of ____ (fill in the blank), are asking me about the seemingly blurred lines between professional, public and personal privacy online.  It feels a little like getting undressed with the shades up. We were warned for years about privacy on the internet and now all those rules are being brought into question.  No wonder we’re feeling assailed.   The rules about privacy appear to be changing daily.  I don’t think anyone really knows the answers on this topic just yet.  And not knowing something as intimate as the privacy of our information is unsettling.  But right now, you need to be internet smart but also give yourself some room until the patterns of interaction sort themselves out.  There is no right answer in this case, at least not yet. But as Tom Peter’s said “When the window of opportunity appears, don’t pull down the shades.”  Though I won’t open mine 100% yet, I think we miss a tremendous opportunity if we lock ourselves out because of the privacy rules.

3.  Less is more

There are so many different social media networks out there now, that it is easy to be overrun and overwrought with what to join and participate in. I recommend that you pick one personal, like Facebook, and one professional, like LinkedIn. (For more info check out 4 Steps To Decide What Social Media Network To Join).   Ignore the millions of other social networks screaming for your participation because, less participation is more sanity.  Spend your valuable few minutes a day in one place where you can get to know others and have meaningful interactions.

4.  Show up, occasionally

You don’t have to be everywhere on the internet, but you do need to be somewhere, consistently, if you ever want to be known.  Once or twice a week on Twitter or commenting in a community, is enough to start building a rapport with others.  You do need to show up but it does not have to be 24X7.  Pick two days to make your ‘show up’ days and spend a little time building your online presence.

5.   Forget ‘transparent,’ go for ‘authentic’

privacyI have trouble with the term ‘transparent’ that is being used for social collaboration.  I think that is another reason that people are uncomfortable with the medium.  Transparent makes me think of that window shade being up again and everyone seeing into my dressing room. It is not about sharing every little bit of information about me on the internet, it’s about being in relationship to other people, in such a way as I can be real and speak from my heart.  When I write this blog for example, I don’t fill it with hype and fluff.  I share with you my genuine thoughts – the real me.  OK, I admit, I’m an extrovert and I am comfortable sharing a lot of my life story, but even if I was more private, or more introverted, as long as the stuff I share is authentic, then I think the connection will be there.  You don’t have to violate your privacy to be connected, but you do have to share something to make the connection, whether physical or virtual.

6.  It’s up to you

It is like the wild west out there on the internet highway.  Full of possibilities and “there is gold in them there hills.”  You just need to filter through some dirt to find it.  What does that mean, you say?  It is up to you to decide how you want to be on the internet. Then you can learn some of the tricks to keep out the unwanted noise.

What is it that you want your connection to social media to be?  Do you want to increase your digital reputation?  Do you want to build your business by using social media?  What are the positive things that social media can bring to your life and your work?

You have a lot to offer, really you do, or you wouldn’t be reading this.  Share a little of who you are on the internet, in your profiles, in your comments, and though I know it may be uncomfortable at first, you will find the virtual connections not only uniquely rewarding but surprisingly freeing.

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Keep up the good attitude. See you next blog.

– Lorian

Email: thedigitalattitude@gmail.com

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/lorianlipton/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LorianL

(All the Social Butterfly’s views are her own)

Grow Your Digital Reputation – 5 Ways

community sketchI’m a social butterfly and like most people, I prefer to participate in groups with other people who hold similar interests to me.  It gives me a sense of trust when I interact with people and groups with common values and beliefs to my own (Meyers, 2011). I find comfort with ‘like minded’ individuals, and obviously, I am not alone in this feeling since, one of the main motivators for people to use social media in the first place, is their desire for community.  Social Media allows us to be a part of community, not dictated by space or location, and it also comes with a sense of family and unity  (Mueller, 2010).

This social connectivity, this common ground, can help you build a strong digital reputation. Just as you are attracted to people and communities that you have something in common with, people will be attracted to what you have to say in return.  You just need to be genuine and authentic in your digital communications.

According to Dorie Clark, one of my favorite Branding gurus, there are 3 main ways to get noticed by other people when building your reputation online:

  1. through the content you create,
  2. by social proof provided by others, and
  3. by having someone recommend you directly.

Based on the first 2 ways above to get noticed, I have put together 5 suggestions on how you can grow your digital reputation.  The third way, having someone recommend you directly, speaks more to your physical network than you virtual one, but if you are getting them to recommend your social presence loudly, at let’s say a cocktail party or business conference, by all means, you should be using that tactic as well.

1. Promote Yourself and Your Ideas on Facebook

Facebook is, hands down, the largest social network being used today.  It is not just for your kids and connecting with your high school buddies anymore.  Many people have set up professional profiles that highlight their knowledge and expertise.  For example, check out Chocolate for Breakfast. This is the business page for Sue Ann Gleason, a culinary nutritionist and marketing strategist.  This page has over 19,845 Likes, which translates into fans following it, with outstanding engagement in the Facebook world (over 60% of the fans are talking about the page according to the Social Media Examiner).  It uses photos really well, has inspiring posts (particularly the recipes),and is entertaining and educational.

pm-choc-for-breakfast

Personally, I have a page on Facebook ( DogDaz ) that I use to connect with my followers that prefer that social network and to promote my PetBlog, dogdaz.com.   The goal is to connect with other animal lovers, promote animal rescue and remind my Facebook followers to read today’s blog posts.  This has worked great in the last year and I have over 40,000 hits on the blog (which is huge for me).

dogdaz fbWhat you will find is that people will start recommending your content to other people, who will recommend it to other people, and building your reputation.  In the Facebook world, the number of people (FANS) that LIKE your page, the higher the rating and stronger your reputation.  These ratings act as SOCIAL PROOF that your page (you) has value.  If someone agrees (thumbs up) that what you are saying, or selling, or doing, has value, that social proof leads others to see greater value in your stuff.  Dorie Clark says that “basically, [social proof] means that people look to others around them to judge the value of something. (If a book has 1,000 five-star Amazon reviews, it must be good.)”  Can you see how you might leverage this to help build your reputation?

2. Connect to Other Professionals with LinkedIn

LinkedIn is definitely ‘the place’ to connect to people professionally.  Just like with Facebook you set up a profile, but the power of LinkedIn comes through your participation in groups that interest you.  This is where you show your smarts.  You build a following on LinkedIn by following other people and groups, and commenting on their ideas, or in forums, with your ideas.  This gets your name out there.  As you comment, you build your credibility as an expert in a particular area, and your reputation increase.

3. Write a Blog

Though blogging is not for everyone, blogs are a great way to let the world know what you are thinking on a particular subject and why you are an expert. It takes time to build an audience, but if your posts are on interesting topics and you take the time to research and write clearly, the benefits to your digital presence is worth it.  I use this blog (thedigitalattitude.com) as a way to pull all my thoughts together about digital eminence, personal branding, and social project management, and then I link my posts to Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and IBM Connections, to make sure that those people who are following me on different platforms, know what I am thinking today.  (Don’t be overwhelmed by the media connections, you can manage the feeds with tools like HootSuite or feedly – but that is for another blog post.)

4. Comment on Other People’s Posts and in Relevant Communities

Being helpful and answering questions in forums and communities is a great way to get known.  This may sound like a tease, but you can give just enough information in your answer and then encourage people to contact you through your email, blog, website or other links, so that you start to build a direct relationship.  The more you put yourself out in front, the more digitally social you are, the more will come back to you.  Trust me – it works (your reading my blog, aren’t you?).

5.  Be a Regular On Your Social Media Sites

If you are going to use any of these suggestions to build your digital reputation, do them consistently.  I hate when I come upon communities, groups, forums, and blog sites that are woefully outdated.  If you are going to have a presence in social media, you need to post regularly or it does you little good.  People will lose interest in your posts if your site, or blog, or Twitter feed is outdated.  You don’t need to post everyday, 2 or 3 times a week is fine, but you should be doing it regularly.

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The internet provides the ability to grow your reputation exponentially,  And, based on the concept of Six Degrees of Separation (or the Small World theory) “millions of people are connected by just a few short steps.” (Lovgren, 2010)  So what are you waiting for? How are you leveraging your connections?

Tell me what you are doing to grow your reputation?

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Keep up the good attitude. See you next blog.

– Lorian

(All the Social Butterfly’s views are her own)

References

Are You Ready For Cyber Relations?

Credit: www.lakeshore.wnyric.org

The internet is a very social place (as if you did not know that already).  In a paper presented at the First International Conference on Cyberspace, in May 1990, two very expert social guys, Chip Morningstar and Randell Farmer, reported that cyberspace was defined more by the social interactions involved rather the technology being used.(1)  And this fact has not changed.  The social currency of the internet is the communications between real people and the central characteristic of using the internet is that it provides a place where people can affect and influence each other.  

That sounds a lot like ‘real’ life (versus internet life), doesn’t it?  We join physical community groups around town to make friends, help others, learn things, and business groups, to advance our careers and meet other like-minded individuals.  Joining a digital group is no different.  Life is all about relationships, physical AND virtual, and today you have more opportunities to relate to others than you ever had before. 

Successfully leveraging your virtual relationships in cyberspace are not much different from leveraging those physical relationships that you have created at your local homeowners association or your professional organization’s monthly meeting.  You get to know people one-on-one and you also get to discuss things in a group.

I am sure that there are people in your physical community that you admire. And maybe there is someone’s column you like to read in the newspaper or watch on television. Today, many of those people are sharing their thoughts and expertise on the internet as well.  So, the first step in your cyber-relationship training is to follow a few of those people to get to know them better.  You do this by following them on the internet in one or more social networks (like LinkedIn or Twitter) and ‘listening’ to what they are saying and doing.  You do not have to talk to them directly; you do not even have to interact; just ‘listen.’  (By ‘LISTEN,’ I mean to read what they say on your computer or smart phone, and to pay attention to their news feed, or blog, or tweets.  This way you can get a deeper sense of what is important to them.)

Attitude Adjustment Homework #1: Follow People.*  Follow a few people (whether on Twitter, LinkedIn, Connections, what ever your network of choice), whose updates may be of interest to you.  You can always ‘unfollow’ them later.

(*Do you need help in how to follow?  Write a comment to this post and I can give you quick steps.)

(Credit for image: Lumaxart at www.flickr.com/photos/lumaxart)Once you start following some people. the next step is to look at what groups/communities they belong to.  When you become part of a digital community, it gives you a view into the discussions of that group which can really open you up to a tremendous amount of information and knowledge that you might not get elsewhere.  You may be amazed at how much knowledge people share in these little discussion sessions.

Joining a few communities is a critical part of making the whole social internet thing work.

Attitude Adjustment Homework #2 : Join at least one GROUP or Community of Practice (on any social network site).

Attitude Adjustment Homework #3: Focus 10 minutes – 3 times this coming week on ‘listening’ and feel free to comment if you have something to say.

What will make the difference in your success in the social world are the conversations you have.  Moving from being a ‘local expert’ to ‘global digital expert’ takes active participation in conversations through social networks and on-line communities. Digitally, I rarely talk to just one client or colleague at a time.  I talk to multiple people simultaneously, across multiple time zones, all in real-time.   (The power is staggering, in a good way.)

I know that I have said this before but, an important thing about expertise is, if you don’t share it, what good is having it.  Expertise comes in the RELATIONSHIP of sharing the knowledge with others.

At first you may find it a little weird ‘stalking’ around and reading people’s status’ and such, but once you start doing it, you will realize that you are not only increasing your knowledge (because there are tons of really smart people out there doing really innovative and exciting things) but you are increasing your expert value, because you are one of them.

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Keep up the good attitude. See you next blog.

– Lorian

(All the Social Butterfly’s views are her own)

Endnotes

1. Morningstar, Chip and F. Randall Farmer. The Lessons of Lucasfilm’s Habitat. The New Media Reader. Ed. Wardrip-Fruin and Nick Montfort: The MIT Press, 2003. 664-667. Print

Image 1 credit: www.lakeshore.wnyric.org

Image 2 credit: Lumaxart at www.flickr.com/photos/lumaxart

4 Steps To Decide What Social Network To Join

Today’s Digital Attitude Adjustment is focusing on building connections: connections to other humans via the internet.  Social connections are the currency by which you build your social reputation and ultimately, your digital eminence.  Out here in cyberspace, communication takes place in the form of written words, pictures, and videos.  These are your digital footprints, the path to you.

footprints

Building your online reputation all boils down to connecting with others.

No others = No reputation = No eminence.

What that means is you need to join and participate in at least one social network.

A common question I get asked is “What social network should I join?” and “Which social network would be right for me?”  I know it can be confusing so here are some thoughts to help guide you.

2973684461_8ecfb1dd10_zChart Credit Laurel Papworth  and Gary Hayes

* INVOLVE – listen to, live the social web, understand it, this cannot be faked
* CREATE – make relevant content for communities of interest
* DISCUSS – no conversation around it, then the content may as well not exist
* PROMOTE – actively, respectfully, promote the content with the networks
* MEASURE – monitor, iteratively develop and respond or be damned!

1.   Figure out who you want to connect with. (If you are a business, who is your audience?)

Ask what social media venues others in your organization or profession are using?  Different venues are good for different connections.  The leaders are Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and YouTube.  They serve different purposes for different people, but, if I was starting today, I would join Facebook for personal and LinkedIn for business. Twitter is really good too, but not everyone was born to Tweet.

I think my personal history kind of parallels the growth of social media, so here is a little flash back.

I started my journey into social networks back in the 1970’s with Usernets and Bulletin Board Services (BBS).  They allowed me to chat with others through online forums. The conversations were not interactive, like we have today, but they were revolutionary for the time. 

In the 1980’s I moved to online services, CompuServe, Prodigy, and then America On Line (AOL).  At that time I also was starting to use Internet Relay Chat (IRC & IRQ)) services which developed into Instant Messaging. 

Then in 1997 I discovered a service called “Six Degrees.”  This was the first site that I can remember that actually let me have a profile. 

I think it took several years (or maybe I was busy working and raising a family) but about 2005 I joined a new venture called  MySpace (it was big for it’s time, but I would not bother with it today);

In 2006, I moved to Facebook (where I still play with my family and friends everyday, sharing status updates and pictures);

I joined Twitter when it was an egg (2007 or 08), but I am only just starting to Tweet on a daily basis (and watch all the knowledge that flashes by every moment of every minute of every hour – thanks to my new very social friend at Kenexa (an IBM company), Bruce Kneuer, Social Media Manager).

I have been a member of  LinkedIn since 2009, but , like many people, I thought it was only for job hunting, which is not true anymore, so I am using it much more (a shout out to Social IBMer Ben Martin, who has some great blog posts to help you use LinkedIn).

I started my pet blog,DogDaz, on Tumblr in 2010, but moved it to DogDaz on WordPress in 2011, which is a better platform for it.  I still do Tumblr but only go on to reblog the great pictures that people post.  

I ‘pin’ sometimes on Pinterest, but mostly I watch what my kids have on their boards.

I belong to several groups in LinkedIn, as well as other communities of practice I belong to, but am getting ready to pare down because I have to many.

 I am also active within my company, IBM, on our internal social space called Connections.

This of course is separate from all the email spaces that I use for the blogs, personal, and business (AOL, gmail, and Lotus Notes).  Oh Yeah, I do have a Google+ account but have not had the time to research it’s value for me yet. 

I tell you all this because, different venues serve different purposes. Now you are probably really confused, so read step 2 below.

2.  Do your research and experiment.

I joined different networks over the years, but only one at a time.  This way I could observe and listen for a while to see how the network worked, what was being discussed, and where I might want  to put my few precious comments.  If you do your homework in Step 1 above (What are other people you know using? What is your professional organization or business group communicating on?), you may get your answer quickly.  Like I said, the winners today usually are LinkedIn and Twitter if you want business like connections.

3.  Set goals and manage your time.

Social media can suck up all your time if you let it, so be clear about why you are using it and how much time you have to devote to the activity every day.  A timer really does work, so get one!  Twitter and Facebook demand more time to be active on than LinkedIn or Pinterest.  Be real with yourself about the time you will have to devote to the medium.

4.  Don’t spread yourself too thin.

You really have to prioritize what you are doing.  You do not need to be on every social network, and you do not have to use them every day.  It is better to be on only one social network and have good participation, then to be overwhelmed and not participate at all.

The only way you build your social reputation is by connecting through social networks. If you are not connected, you need to remedy that right now!   Without virtual connections, you basically are talking to yourself.  Sharing information without connecting is meaningless.

YOUR ATTITUDE ADJUSTMENT HOMEWORK: GET CONNECTED

For a great exercise in connectivity and human relationship building check out “Leading With Intention,” a blog by Vicki Flaherty, a fellow IBMer..

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Keep up the good attitude. See you next blog.

– Lorian

(All the Social Butterfly’s views are her own)

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