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11 April  2010 ~

We live in an era of rapid business change.  Over the last ten years there have been significant impacts like: the web, Y2K, 9/11, Sarbanes Oxley and now social media.  One thing is for sure, best of class companies continue to evolve with the times to maintain their competitive advantages.  Today, everyone is talking about social media but can it really impact business operations and process excellence?

Absolutely!

Social Media is a literally a “conversation” on steroids.  If this “conversation” is well maintained, meaning it is providing value to the listener as opposed to wasting the listener’s time, this will build relationships with the listeners.  Over time, trust will grow in these relationships and… trust, ultimately leads to the business benefit that is being sought.

 Now we understand the basic premise of social media, what are some of the basic premises needed to successfully drive internal business productivity?  Successful internal business productivity requires many things like; business strategy, senior level sponsorship, the ability to positively influence business leaders and staff, and most importantly, the ability to build strong relationships.

The significant takeaway is… social media can be a powerful tool to drive relationship building, which in turn is a key ingredient for successful business performance improvement.  Let’s apply this to real world situations to see how it works.

#1 – “Key Communication at a Glance” – Think of micro blogging (i.e. Twitter) – and being limited to “conversing” in a short burst (i.e. 140 characters).  Who can use this? How about HR for communication purposes– sending out short, relevant bursts of key information as it applies to employees.  To increase the communication’s effectiveness, a link can be included to drive the reader directly to additional information.

Here’s one potential illustration of this New Benefit selection period to start on March 1st. Go to www.yourco.com/NewBen for additional information
Of course, this communication can be repeated throughout the enrollment cycle. 

The purpose here is simple – communication at a glance.  Everyone is busy, but everyone still needs to be made aware of key issues.  While this short communication isn’t intended to replace an existing communication, it is intended to provide another low (or no) cost way to increase the reach of a particular business function’s communication.

#2 – “Key Performance Indicators” (KPI’s) – Business results are driven by key elements within the business.  These elements or indicators need to be identified, measured and communicated so that good business practices are being pursued and things needing improvement are rapidly addressed. 

Short communication bursts are the perfect way to communicate the key indicators throughout the company. One example could beEast region sales units exceeded plan by 3% – Great job by Jim Rice’s sale team

While there are multiple ways to leverage this, one added result would be to create positive competition as well as praising a job well done.

#3 – Micro-Training – Let’s apply this to the Marketing function this time.  Let’s assume a new product or service is about to be launched.  Clearly, marketing needs to be completely educated on it so they can create the right message, positioning, communication, etc.  Why not start the education early in the product development process and keep it progressing as the development progresses.

Here’s an example for internal education on a new consulting service aimed at legal professionals:
Alert #1 of 21 – The prime target audience for xyz service is a legal professional with 4-7 years of experience
Alert #2 of 21 – Our service saves them 75% more time due to our unique methodology
Alert #3 of 21 – Competition to this product includes acme, PDG, and XYZ LLC.  Our competitive advantage is our existing customer base

…and so forth.  This can also be done in any functional areas like Finance for annual budgeting or in HR for internal training. 

#4 – Knowledge Repository (Internal Wiki) – Unfortunately, when key information is stored in “silos” within companies, the effects can be devastating.  Using an internal knowledge repository, can dramatically reduce this problem.  For instance, when key employees know where they can go to get answers, the company has now empowered each of them to be problem solvers who can develop answers quickly (which can be a huge competitive advantage).  Conversely, if a key employee who maintains key company information only in his head, suddenly departs, it can take a significant amount of time to regenerate and replace that knowledge (which can be a huge competitive disadvantage).

#5 – Webinars, Podcasts, and Video Conferencing – All of these are great to establish communications and share knowledge between company professionals that are not local to each other.  Leveraging these tools can reduce time inefficiencies (i.e. fewer meetings) and increase business understanding, which can lead to a more productive workforce.

Wrap Up

The above 5 elements focused on tactics, but what was not stated was the power of relationship building each one created.  With micro-training, while the marketing recipient may not have the ability to spend significant time with the service creator, they actually have increased exposure to that person (or team) which can increase the relationship between those two groups.  The same applies for the other 4 ways that were discussed as well.

There is so much more to add and this is a topic I absolutely enjoy discussing, so perhaps we’ll continue to address this in future posts.  While I’m not suggesting social media replace face to face relationship building across an enterprise, I am strongly advocating using social media tools to increase the speed, efficiency and sustainability of enterprise wide business improvements.

I welcome your comments!

 

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About the CFO Strategist

Chris is very proud to add Best Selling author to his resume.  The book he co-authored, 42 Rules for 24 Hour Success on LinkedIn reached best seller status on Amazon, hitting a high of #68 across all of Amazon! Recently the book was included in the “Top 100 Best Social Media Books, Ever” list at #77 http://blog.mellowbillow.com/2009/08/17/top-100-best-social-media-books-ever/.

To purchase the book, please go to www.LinkToProsper.com or to Amazon.

To learn more about how to effectively use LinkedIn – we offer a free eCourse at www.42for24.com

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3 Comments »

  1. You are right on the money with this post, keep up the good work!

    Comment by Sportbike Rider April 16, 2010 @ 4:13 pm
  2. Kudos from one brainiac to another. :)

    Comment by The Guide April 21, 2010 @ 10:05 am
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