Five Tips for Social Networking, with John Hagel & John Seely Brown

In Five Tips for Smarter Social Networking in their Big Shift Harvard Business Review blog, John Hagel III and John Seely Brown offer solid advice for executives who want to get traction with social networks, some of which might surprise you. It’s valuable for executives from individual and company perspectives. Here’s the post, and here’s my response, which builds and extends some of their points:

John2, thanks for very solid advice all around. However, I totally agree with @cole, to be most productive as an individual or an enterprise, you must have an explicit strategy. An enterprise is an orchestra, so defining key goals and techniques, without dictating, is critical for success. This includes giving guidance and space for employees to pursue their personal branding, by resonating with the enterprise.

One simple concept I use when working with clients involves a 2×2: a trust vector intersects an interest vector, dividing your network into 4 quadrants. It helps people make actionable the advice you give, especially #5. For the people in your high-interest/low-trust quadrant (HI/LT), you want to increase your interactions with them. Through interaction, you increase or decrease trust with people. You are less concerned with people in the LI/LT quadrant. People in the LI/HT quadrant you touch with more personal things. As you interact with HI/LT, you want to move a portion of them to the HI/HT quadrant, which is your gold. More detail on this here:

However, I think the most valuable part of your post is the piece on being vulnerable; this is the part that executives have the hardest time with. But as you say, it inspires some and turns off others. In a crass way, though, the fact is, there are infinitely many people. In pervasive networks, the “specialist,” i.e. being yourself, becomes a better strategy; as you imply, generalists become invisible, have no taste, like processed meats. Eviscerated of character. Of course, as you say, all of this must take into account “the specific circumstances of their work and employers” – but, not only now, but forever.

Thanks again for a great post!

What are your thoughts or experiences on being vulnerable online?

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