Yammer Comfort

This is not a blog post about doing something that may make you uncomfortable. Rather, this is a blog post about doing what you know already works, just doing more of it, and doing it in a different way.

Over the last four years, I have worked diligently to help my community of Yammer Enterprise Social Network users understand the importance and value of working and connecting in an online social networking platform. We share information and expertise. We expand our networks. We become better at what we do while becoming a closer community of leaders.

We all recognize the fact though, that sharing on a social networking platform is risky behavior. Some know it conciously. Others just feel it in their gut. Sharing what you do, and working with more transparency, is a risk. We risk negative feedback or even worse, no feedback at all. We risk feeling less intelligent that others around us. We risk feeling like there is something that everyone else knows, and we are only now aware because we are the one who decided to share and say “Help me. I don’t know.”

Then when we finally do share, when we do put ourselves “out there,” it’s wonderful! Recently, we had a post in our Yammer network that asked a pretty simple, straightforward question. Seemingly out of nowhere, dozens and dozens of replies appeared. New ideas were shared, new connections made. Most importantly, all of this great content is now part of a valuable, ongoing legacy of information and conversation.

Sadly, for too many of our users, the transaction is now finished. A question was asked, and answer was made, now let’s move on. What if instead, this online exchange of information was only the beginning? What if activity in our Yammer network was only the first step in an ongoing process of sharing and engaging? I have recently seen this happen for me in a couple of ways.

I belong to a private Yammer group for other people who manage Yammer networks. We are…Yammer Managers. Yammer Admins. YaManagers. Pick a name. We help run things, and we are who you call when you have a question.

I had noticed that there were a few other people posting in the network who lived in the area, so we took it to the next level.

“Let’s meet for lunch!”

So, we did. At first, my Yammer colleagues were just names on a screen. Some helpful information one day. A funny comment the next. And this is exactly where it would have stayed had we not decided to meet face to face. We found a restaurant at a good, central location (that happens to serve excellent French fries), and we have met now several times. We have created meaningful friendships, and we help each other with our work. Now I know I always have someone to call when I need help, or just to bounce ideas off of.

I was perusing my Twitter feed, something admittedly I don’t do as much as I should. A Yammer user I follow re-tweeted a tweet from someone I did not know, about a local gathering of people who manage community collaboration platforms. This was tough, because there was not a soul involved who I knew even remotely. But the event being promoted looked worthwhile, and I thought I could make some good connections and collect some good information.

As I write this post, I am on the train riding back from the event, and I am so very glad that my online activity made it so I could connect with some very special people today. I learned, I connected, I expanded my network and I have some great new ideas about how to strengthen my work.

Yes this is all easier said than done. Get comfortable online, then feel like you can reach out to people you only know as a name on a screen, then walk into a room of strangers. It may sound like I am patting myself on the back…OK, I can live with that, but if there is anything good I have been able to do here, I hope it can serve as an example of what you can do too, and how you can change your comfort levels to find more information, to connect to more people, and to actually improve your life.

Yammer is just the first step. Jump on in!

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