Behind The Firewall – Rogue Agents

RoguestarWe’ve talked about this before. Employees taking steps on their own to induce change into an organization, to better serve the customers they interact with. We’ve talked about this before, though probably from a corporate perspective rather than a personal one. Let’s make it personal.

Most agents of change have historically bent the rules. These people found new, simpler, or better ways of doing things.  They didn’t hesitate to take on the leadership role (taking initiative) to make things happen, often without asking for permission or direction ahead of time.

Taking risks and bringing new ideas or technology into an organization can not only be challenging, but can potentially put your job in jeopardy. Below I list 5 things you can do as an agent of change in your organization. Be aware, however, that doing some of these things may violate the specific policies in your company, and that these are simply examples of what has been done by other people in other situations where they acted as Rogue Agents.

1 – Build Your Own Brand

One of the most important things to do first is be aware of who you are and your passions. Sometimes it helps to have a brand or package to work with before you start working with someone else’s, and what better one to start with than your own? Build your personal brand, and establish who you are first.

2 – Gain Access to the Tools

In order to stay on top of industry news (your own and for the social media “industry” of ideas & tools), you need to be connected. Many companies have fairly open access to information on the Internet, and some have unfettered access to social media/networking sites. If this isn’t your situation, bring your own access! Use a 3G modem to connect to the Internet without pesky firewalls and policies in the way. Ultimately I’d suggest bringing in your own laptop to do this with. In any case, you do have a smart phone don’t you? Winking smile

3 – Experiment, Learn, Share

Try everything that looks useful! Most tools don’t fit the needs of your organization, or yourself for that matter. The lesson here is that learning what tools are good for what tasks is what’s important. That way, you can properly identify a tool/service/solution for a given need. Remember to share what you learn!

4 – Get Involved

Find something your passionate about or good at. Participate in the forums, groups, meetups, or online discussions. Let people hear your perspectives & ideas, and listen to what they’ve got to say (you’ll likely learn a lot). Let other folks in your organization in on some of the discussion & groups that are of value to your company’s product or brand. Share the knowledge, and make sure that you’re recognized in those groups as a thought leader.

5 – Become a Knowledge Expert

As you work on your personal brand, and learn the concepts and technologies that make up what social media is, you will start establishing yourself as a knowledge expert. Mostly this means that you’re sharing interesting ideas and knowledge that help other people succeed. This in turn is something that people will recognize about you, and that’s what the personal pay-off is going to be for all the time you invest in being a rogue agent. It’ll help you be a better you as your career unfolds, and you can bring your specialized, demonstrated skills to future clients.

It goes without saying that the items above are examples of what some people have done at different organizations in the past. What worked for them may not work for you or your organization. Be smart in what you’re trying to do – changing an organization to better itself for it’s customers is the right thing to do, changing an organization simply because you don’t like their policies isn’t.

Photo credit: Roguestar by Jeremy Brooks

The More You Share

'Trees In Scotland' by Andrew CrummyOne of the most amazing things I’ve experienced in the past decade of social media is the aspect of sharing. From the first time I read Cluetrain to the current place it takes in the multiple buzz word lexicon of social media – sharing is a central pillar of social engagement.

For many of us today, sharing is an easy exercise. Cut & paste a link, click a share button for a photo or embed a video in a post. We take it for granted… it’s easy!

For those getting started, or for businesses both large and small, sharing is not as clear as one would think it is. Businesses may worry about ownership of content (copyright) issues, or the context of the content they’re sharing and how it reflects or impacts their brand and reputation.

Individuals may have similar concerns, and might have trouble understanding the technical “how to’s” of proper attribution or embedding of HTML code. But that’s what the seasoned folks should be, and are, helping with – that’s a lot of what we share.

Back to sharing itself though.

As online social engagement grows with mainstream participation, people and businesses gain more from sharing than we initially realize. Giving back to the community has always been a cornerstone of corporate responsibility, and participating in online communities is easier and more cost effective than in the physical community.

Offering up tips, tricks, ideas, solutions, trials, samples, free product, services and more helps build community and reflects on individuals and brands in a positive light. Who doesn’t enjoy or respect those who are helpful? That’s not the same as giving things away simply for favors, that has it’s place in brand building, but not for community building.

Many will call it the “pay it forward” method, and indeed giving back to your community is crucial to the health of that community. It motivates others to do the same and thereby provides a basic, common knowledge to the community that benefits the whole. In the end, ideas are shared back to you or your business that you might otherwise not have thought of.  And that’s always a good thing.

Photo credit: Andrew Crummy

New to Twitter? Top 10 Tips For People

10 by Leo ReynoldsSo you’ve done it, you’ve jumped on the Twitter “bandwagon”.  At least, you’ve decided that its now worth your time and you’re ready to reap the rewards, whatever they are.

There’s been a lot of discussion in the corporate space for the use of Twitter.  Why you should, why you shouldn’t, and a lot of “mushy middle” discussion around the water cooler that doesn’t really help much.

I’ve been there behind the firewall where it’s difficult to get access, or demonstrate value of a service.  So here are some tips on how you really get value for yourself when using Twitter.

1 – The Follow

Don’t think of “friends”, think of people you would like to learn from or listen to. Sure, your personal friends and colleagues will be among those you follow, but find interesting people to follow. Check out who your friends follow, you’ll meet a few new folks, then check out who those people follow, and I guarantee that you’ll start connecting with truly interesting people that you’ll benefit from knowing. It’s really a form of viral networking.

2 – Be Conversational

Jump in and take part in conversations and discussions.  Or simply share your quips and quotes, though with nearly any followers at all you’ll be brought into the conversation.  Twitter is possibly one of the best tools for introverts to meet new people and enter into conversations.

3 – Be Inquisitive

Ask questions, seek answers, explore! While an unending stream of questions can be annoying, starting conversations through the use of questions is quite often appreciated. By our very nature, we all like to learn something, so for the sake of a conversation or for getting an answer to something, ask away!  Twitter is a wonderful crowd sourcing tool.

4 – Be Helpful

A very powerful aspect of the Twitter community is how helpful most people are.  There are so many ways being helpful to your friends and followers that it’ll pay you back in the long run.  Think of it on interpersonal networking terms. The folks you help out may end up helping you in the future.

5 – Please Disagree

Differing points of view help foster learning and discovery. Its ok to disagree with friends and followers. What isn’t pleasant is arguments. Sure these happen in any social interaction sometimes, but its having different points of view that make sharing more interest. Be respectful, be nice, but be yourself.

6 – Don’t Flame

This goes hand-in-hand with number five above. If you can’t add something constructive, informative, or useful, perhaps it’s time for a break.Flaming only harms a person’s reputation (personal brand) and since it’s online, it’s hard to get rid of that newly written record of your actions. Something to keep in mind for online reputation management!

7 – Share Things

Everyone enjoys learning something new, so bring a link or unique piece of knowledge. Maybe its in your profession, or more enjoyable, something that you’re passionate about. Don’t hesitate to share things you find online as your Twitter community is probably already sharing things with you. It’s a great way to learn new things.

8 – Peripheral Services

There are a ton of unique services that build on top of Twitter, or make it an even better platform for communication.  There are a number of audio, photo, and video services that add extra dimensions to Twitter.  Other services use Twitter to share what you’re doing, like webcasting, or checking in with geo-location services.  Other services are built for sharing links and use Twitter for that sharing platform.

9 – Twitter Clients

The Twitter ecosystem has expanded to include dedicated client software as well. There are web based solutions and desktop/laptop based solutions, not to mention mobile apps too. You can likely find the one that fits you best to help customize how you use Twitter and read the stream of information from your network of peers.

10 – Be Yourself

Of course, it should go without saying that you need to simply be you. Trying to be something you’re not usually is discovered early on anyway, and the value of interaction is to be transparent – that’s one of the ethos of social media to begin with. So be you and be proud of it, even if you’re more of an introvert, you’ll find Twitter is a great way to break out of that shell.

Photo credit: Leo Reynolds

Independence Behind The Firewall

'The Consultant' by orkboi Have I mentioned recently that I do consulting and implementation work in social media strategy, community development and training?  Probably not as much as I should, but I wanted to include that at the top in this post because I don’t bring it up often.

It’s also relevant to what many people are doing in their role to help their businesses understand how they can use social media.  You see, sometimes you need to induce change and one of many ways is to think like an outsider.

Taking the perspective of someone new to the organization, but with a focus on your task at hand (social media).  How would that new individual go about things?  Will they simply accept “that’s how we’ve always done it”, or would they push to discover a new way?

What if you took that new perspective, one that an independent consultant might have?  How would that change your organization?  You have the ability to stat that today and begin to develop your own independent perspective while maintaining your current role.

I was in IT when I started thinking differently.  For me it became an interest to see what else we could use all that corporate technology for in addition to simply running the company.  There was a growing desire within to start sharing the ideas and exploring how the company could benefit.

Start making change – explore your independence behind the firewall.

Photo courtesy of orkboi

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