I could write just jump in. Or, I could suggest you put all kinds of policies and training in place. The truth is that fear is irrational, and often driven by lack of knowledge. Plus, the reality sits somewhere in the middle, just like life is shades of colors.
In the last couple of the days, I've had the pleasure of meeting professionals in the software construction business. Some of them are immersed in consulting for large implementations, others help rescue and manage building projects. That is complex, because it needs to take into account the real reality — that of the physical world.
We tend to forget that. Those of us who spend time in social media, tend to live and breathe the space as if it were real life, which it isn't, of course. It is however, a great place to build a network, find like minded people, see what others are working on, and learn with them.
The goal is to apply what we learn to real life — you know, the construction projects, data center hosting, filling the barns with product in ag, distributing inventory to warehouses, and all that good stuff. It doesn't only pay the bills, it also provides satisfaction for those who love their work, who come home after a long day and have the quiet satisfaction of having put a first floor in a new building.
Compared to all that, social media can be abstract, and feel overwhelming… at first, and scary.
In the conversation I helped moderate, we talked about the advantages of social media for B2Bs, building communities of practice and engaging communities of interest. The best part was when members of the audience took over the conversation. I keep my presentations brief for that reason, so they can do that.
And way in the back is sitting this IT manager, who ended up knowing my former CIO (in another small world surprises), who jumps in to share how he got his company to start adopting social media. He went to the service people, who are used to one on one conversations, and got them familiarized with the tools.
Once they started getting oriented in social networks, they did what they do best — help customers with questions and issues, reaching out to them proactively, and making friends. Then they started talking to the rest of the organization about what they did, and how they did it.
We then discussed how a set of guidelines with enough content to support employee adoption, give them ways to respond to issues, and an escalation path appropriate for the organization not to get in trouble, is a good way to stay open to opportunities — while being smart about them.
I was delighted to speak to a director of general contracting afterward who thanks to the conversation we had was excited at the possibilities and the opportunity. Next week, we'll talk a bit more about the kind of pact companies need to make internally between IT, management, and the employees who raise their hand to help their companies network and be social.
Together, they will teach the rest of the organization how to get over their fears of social media.
What about your company? What are the issues and questions your colleagues challenge you with regularly? How are you helping them manage risk — real or perceived?