Are you a user of Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or any other method of social networking for your business? Does it add real value to your business relationships or is it a distraction? Can you point to an instance where a contact on a social network helped you land new business, or provide better service? We certainly can.
Most businesses opened up their firewall so that employees could begin to use these social networking sites with the intent of encouraging the exchange of ideas and knowledge about the business. But, is that communicated correctly to the employees? Should there be an addendum to the Employee Handbook acceptable use policy that states the reasons for allowing employees to access these sites while at work?
Distractions Exist Everywhere
We need to start at a common point that will help form the basis for a discussion about this issue: distractions exist everywhere. Those who are prone to, and are engulfed in distractions that prevent them from doing their jobs need to be reminded of the damage that this can cause to their productivity - with the alternative being to show them the door.
A California university professor described the method that he uses to handle these distractions. At first, he thought it was wise to instruct all of his students to turn off any form of electronic communication while class was in session. After a period of time, he realized that he was cutting these students off from their world, and it was affecting their attention span in a negative way. So he made a new rule: use your devices in a responsible manner during the lectures or be forced to come to the front of the class and give a summary of what was just spoken. Incredibly, he had not one student with a problem the rest of the year.
Networking with Purpose
It is no longer enough just to give an incoming employee an email address and a copy of your email policy. There needs to be instruction offered that teaches how to use all forms of communications and the requirement to use them responsibly. Guidelines need to be communicated as to what is and is not appropriate. This is especially true for those who use social networking in the work place to foster business relationships which result in new business or excellent customer service.
But, it should not stop there. This needs to be followed up with a proactive approach on how to use social networking to benefit the business. Making these tools available and teaching how to use them for the advancement of the business is good for business. Adding this to the already tried and true methods of interacting from a business standpoint provides avenues for contact that might not otherwise exist naturally.
The bottom line: it is all about using tools that are at your disposal to create and cultivate relationships which go beyond “water cooler” discussions. Social networking can have an impact that is positive and lasting for your business when used correctly.