You work in an enterprise even if you don’t work in the corporate sector. Our staffs are the one measure we can use to influence the value of our services. We are in social institutions and are managing their results. Technology is very rapidly catching up with the mandates of institutions. This session talks about the role of social networks in influencing our institutions. Employees must understand why their organizations exist and their roles in them.
This panel was composed of:
- Stephen Abram, VP, Gale Cengage Learning (moderator)
- Cindy Hill, Manager, Research Library and Bank Archives, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco
- Scott Brown, Social Information group
- Richard Hulser, Chief Librarian, Los Angeles Natural History Museum
- Amy Affelt, Director, Database Research, Compass Lexicon
How does one get to understand the basic idea, role, and mission of an organization and the role of a library in it?
CH: I read as much as I can about the organization and its culture externally and internally, including the strategic plans. Then I can create my own strategic plan.
SB: I went to a company all-hands meeting to get immersed in the culture and learn who the real influencers are and who might not show up on the organization charts. This lets you see what the organization is thinking about. Research request are also very useful to learn what are the current issues.
RH: We went to the Chief Scientist’s annual presentation of what the key projects are to understand what the executives are thinking At the museum, I talk to lots of people to learn the culture, how people use information, etc. The main thing is the visitor experience; if you are not doing something related to that, you are not advancing the institution’s mission.
AA: My company doesn’t have an org chart or strategic plan, so I have set up news feeds and find out information. I just ask people where the company is going, who are the major clients I found that many people were happy to talk about what they do. I asked to be copied on all new client notifications and then I use them to provide information.
Within your context, how do you build real interpersonal relationships in the organization? How does one build and network?
RH: Meeting everybody is a challenge. I took any kind of event (retirement, etc.) as an opportunity to have people identify key people, and then I introduce myself to them and listen to them to understand what they are doing.
CH: I wrote thank you notes to all my interviewers. One of them was very aggressive and became a key resource and mentor for me. It was my first opportunity to ask a person outside my profession for advice.
AA: I try to find a connection that is not necessarily work related and build a relationship that way. This gives me a common topic to talk about.
SB: We have been social for thousands of years, but the relationships are what this is really about. I lay my groundwork on what’s social. In deepening relationships, you must give and give before you ask for a little bit back. Sometimes it is an exploration process.
What are the social tools you use and how do you use them? How to you let people know something about yourself?
AA: LinkedIn has helped me with connections within the company. We are a globally diverse company, and we will probably never meet many of the people in other countries. I send them LinkedIn invitations to establish connections with me. I try to put all my publications and presentations on my profile, including my SLA activities so people will see my experience and expertise.
RH: If people want to be a personal friend on Facebook, I decline because they are not in the business. I use LinkedIn heavily for professional connections. IBM has an internal social network for employees and also one for former employees which is a good way to keep in contact with other colleagues. IBM uses that network for recruiting recommendations among other things. Senior managers tend to maintain their connections after they leave a company.
CH: I use LinkedIn all the time to do profiles on bank executives. The Fed is very secure, and personal PCs can be used only in special wireless hot spots. I am working to get two of these in the library. Change comes extremely slowly; people are slowly starting to use IM around the bank. We are starting to mentor and coach them on their information resources. We use video conferencing to connect all 13 branches of the Fed.
SB: We need to take a human view of the tools. Your end purpose will drive this, and it will integrate into marketing, strategy, and purpose. Look at what is going on already that is acceptable to groups.
What causes differences in adoption of social media?
CH: It is a pain point–they feel the lack of something and can see the tool that will help give them an answer.
SA: It’s not the technology; it’s meeting a need.
RH: How do we connect with our users? How do we know who they are? We go out and talk to museum attendees waiting to get in.
Columnist, Information Today, and
IL 2012 Blog Coordinator