Working in Social Business (insert your term in here Social Media/Enterprise 2.0/Collaborative Technologies/Social Strategy) over the past few years has been a continuously learning experience. And I love it. I love that every day I work with people within the field, with a hunger to learn and listen and share.

Here are some of my own lessons I have learned along the way.

Tell Stories
Working in a highly regulated environment, I have been in many meetings or conversations where I have found myself in the situation of starting to “defend” the benefits of building community within the enterprise, or proving that “social” technologies can show true monetary value.  Rather than take the defensive approach, or start explaining how “everyone else is doing it”, there is nothing more powerful than making it personal.  Tell stories that people can relate to.  Don’t speak of the benefits of “social”.  Speak about real people who are seeing value, particularly if they are people that they know.  Everyone likes to hear a story and more importantly people share stories.

Work with the way things are
Have you ever wondered how some structures, hierarchies and processes ever got as complex and inefficient as they are today?  When working with collaborative technologies, it can be easy to fall into the trap of wondering how everyone can possibly not see the benefits and just change the way they work.  But you can make a lot of traction, by embracing these structures.  Existing hierarchies can be useful in getting decisions made.  They can help institutionalise new practices and embed them into current processes.  “Bottom-up” approaches tend to have ceilings. hierarchies and processes help to embed collaboration into the way work gets done. Just don’t mistake this with thinking that you can’t change the way things are.

Spend time on your network
Social business is ultimately about people and the people in your network are your enablers.  Spend time on nurturing your network and building your community.
Share with your network.  Listen to your network. Connect your network.  And most importantly, thank your network.

Thank you to those who have:

– believed in what I am doing and building.
– shared their stories and wisdom with me (and given me constructive criticism when I have needed it.)
– listened to my story and let me help evolve theirs.
– joined my network.

Keep Learning
Reading and listening to others helps me develop and evolve my thoughts.  Taking time to learn from those around me.  Asking questions and really listening to what others are doing and saying helps me continuously evolve and adapt and apply these learnings to my own communities and work.  To push the boundaries and innovate we need to take time to question and learn.

What lessons are part of your story?