Parents often instill in their kids – sharing … “Max, share your toys with Cooper.” Yet somehow this common sense mentality dwindles as we get older – especially in the professional sense.
In some cases it is a generational thing. Millennials were born into the world with the computers and the Internet and by the time they reached the professional ranks, they are extremely comfortable with social technologies and the nature of sharing and collaboration. But I would not just make this simple generational separation.
I am a couple decades away from being a millennial and I see a justified business case for social media, sharing, and collaboration.
About a year ago when I was doing marketing and social media consulting, someone I was working with on a potential partnership looked at what I was doing with my blog, presenting at conferences, social outreach, and general networking. He felt that the information I was giving away for free (writing about and presenting in open forums) was a package that should be paid for. My position was that social media was something new, not well understood, and needed to be unveiled and explained. This was my rationalization, but there was something even more important than that. I learned so much in return from others and was presented with opportunities that came back ten-fold to me. This is a business case for sharing!
We must learn to share. Tony Hsieh does a nice job describing his business case justification for sharing in his book, “Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose.” (Highly recommend reading … if you want to see a little bit more on this, check out my review.)
The next step after sharing is collaboration. Are you part of a collaborative culture? Do you want to be part of a great company? In today’s world, the two can not be separated – collaboration and a great company. Great companies collaborate – internally and externally. The degree of collaboration often distinguishes good companies from great companies.
Social media is an excellent tool for collaboration whether collaboration is used internally as a share-knowledge portal, or if it is used to engage with people with similar interests and expertise outside your company. Setting up an internal social network in the workplace is worth considering as a tool for bringing a company together to share knowledge and meanderings from an informal perspective. Yes, I know from my work in social media – a community does not decide it is a community, until the community, decides it is a community. (Got that?) A tool can not change culture, but it may be a small piece of the “change management” to help evolve your culture.
From an external perspective: today, I work for Hachette Filipacchi Media, but I continue to share experiences outward in social media channels. Yes, I enjoy evangelizing practices and benefits of social media. I do not give away proprietary information, but I do share stuff others get paid for via consulting. Sharing is important … it has led to collaborative endeavors and has helped me in my work at HFM.
Until you learn to collaborate, every opportunity to leverage talent, experience, ambition, etc. will keep you from moving from a good company to a great company. (Do you want to work at a great company?)
So I’ll ask two questions to answer for yourself:
1) What are you doing to make sure you have a collaborative environment?
2) Do you want to work at a great company?
Share It! Make It Happen!
PS – Want more on sharing and collaboration for your company? Check out “How Social Media Has Prepared Us for Collaborative Business.”