You decide to introduce Yammer (Microsoft enterprise social network), or really any technology platform, to your organization. Default behavior, if not company policy, would dictate that certain protocols are followed as the technology is introduced.

Community guidelines need to be set so that users know how to conduct themselves in their new Yammer network. Use cases need to be outlined so users will know how Yammer can best be utilized for their work. Policies need to be implemented so that users will know how, when and why the Yammer network will be used.

These are all important steps to take, and make no mistake, the steps must be taken. You will need to work with colleagues, you will need to form committees, you will need to write meeting agendas, and you will need to put in the time and work necessary to create the valuable documentation that will help drive engagement in your Yammer network. These are all good, important steps to take. You have to take these steps, difficult and time consuming though they may be.

And as you find yourself neck deep in this detailed work necessary to launch your Yammer network, I suggest another, much more simple step.

Launch your Yammer network. By yourself.

All of the policy and procedure that can be created to shape and encourage engagement can never replace the power of a simple post. Provide your user colleagues an opportunity to see how Yammer works. Let them see, in real time, how Yammer can improve communication, collaboration and technology.

Interest in Yammer needs to be created. There needs to be curiosity, and maybe a little bit of intrigue and excitement. Start posting in your Yammer network.

  1. If you have found a good article or website, post the link in Yammer. But don’t just post a link. Include a comment, or even better, a question. Tag the people you think will be particularly interested in the content so they will get an alert, and give them the opportunity to see how easily information can be shared and discussed.
  2. If you have a need to communicate regularly with a group of people, don’t set up an email group. Instead, create a Yammer group. By starting conversations and sharing resources in that group rather than sending them all out via email, your colleagues will immediately see the benefits of keeping everything in one convenient, easy to visit space. They will see the legacy of information being created and how conversation is easier to have and resources are easier to find.
  3. Use your Yammer network as a place to get to know your colleagues. Create a group around shared interests. We would never know our colleagues as well as we do if we never talked about our kids, our weekends or our hobbies, and Yammer should reflect that friendly workplace environment. So, set up a group called “Pets of XYZ, Inc.” so everyone can see your dog. Or a group called “The Last Concert I Attended” so you can share your love of music and talk all about that great concert you attended over the weekend. These connections will help colleagues feel more comfortable with another, and will make it easier to share and collaborate in your Yammer network.

These three steps are not meant to replace solid policy and procedure. Those are still important and necessary items to have in place, but ultimately policy and procedure are abstract concepts at best. In order to truly appreciate how a technology platform will work for us, we need to know how it will actually help our work.

Consider the network your space. How should it be used for your work? Use it that way. How can information best be shared? Share information that way? How do you want your user colleagues to make best use of the platform? Compel them to move away from email and to use the platform in innovative ways with real impact and effect.

Create policy, but don’t expect your colleagues will begin to use Yammer without an example being set, without someone leading the way, or without giving them a living, breathing way to see how the platform will help them in their work.

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