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    « Guest Post - HR and IT, Part One | Main | Carnival of HR - Oasis Edition »

    Ask the Tweeps?

    A knowledge worker in search of information or answers to specific issues or problems has several possible alternatives at their disposal to attempt to find the right answers, and solve their problem.Flickr - Thomas Hawk


    1. Ask an internal colleague

    2. Search the available company information databases or systems

    3. 'Broadcast' a question to numerous other internal colleagues, or even the entire company

    4. Google it

    5. Leverage 'external' contacts, via e-mail, phone, or social networking

    Lately, it seems like more and more I am turning to my 'external' networks, usually my Twitter friends, when I have a question, issue, or am looking for some opinion and feedback on issues that are not 'inside' in nature.

    My question to you is : Who do you turn to when you are in need of information, or insight?

    Do you find yourself asking your Twitter, Facebook, or other 'external' contacts more or less than your co-workers?

    Are your 'external' contacts more important and vital to your success than your co-workers?

    And finally, what should organizations be doing (if anything), if indeed many employees are relying on external contacts and social networks for answers and information?

    Let me know your thoughts.

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    Reader Comments (8)

    Hi Steve,

    It depends on who I feel can provide me with the information the fastest. If it's on a subject that's already been dealt with and documented then I look internally. If it's something I'm not as familiar with, or if I'm looking for several perspectives, then my external contacts get a call, so to speak.

    I have to say that I have an advantage in that I work for a large company with extensive internal resources (but sadly, no HRIS). My response may not be true for smaller organizations.

    In updating my HRM Business Model and Architectural "Starter Kits," one of the important changes is to recognize that personal networks are just as much a KSAOC as are knowledge, skill, ability, attitude, behavior, etc. Whether hiring, deploying internally, assessing, or conducting any other KSAOC-centric HRM process, my ability/willingness to deploy my social networks in support of the business is an important new concept. As a solo, it's all about personal networks for me, and social networking tools -- first phone, then email, now Twitter etc. -- have all extended my networks, improved the quality of them through selective following, and reduced time-to-value tremendously. Today's tools are just the latest; the value of social networks has always been with us but never more visibly than right now.

    June 15, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterNaomi Bloom

    Chaos - I suspect that your approach is the dominant and most common one. In those instances when you are drawing from your external contacts, is there any mechanism or platform for the 'internalization' of that knowledge? I am thinking of a situation where perhaps other folks in your organization may also have the same question some time, but do not have the benefit of your personal network.

    Naomi - I agree that effectively leveraging your personal networks is of primary importance to the consultant, especially the small or one-person organization. The tools and platforms certainly make this much more accessible and even important, as your competitors also have access to many of the same 'contacts' as you.

    Thanks to both for reading and for sharing your thoughts.

    June 15, 2009 | Registered CommenterSteve

    I most often ask quick/easy questions to my coworkers. More in-depth or strategic questions go to my Twitter followers. The Twitter friends are more willing to take the time to answer (and email, if need be), and the varied experiences and answers are better than one coworker's experience. Plus, I have ideas/plans that my coworkers wouldn't even understand, and it would probably annoy them for me to ask! :-)

    What should orgs be doing if people are going out to find answers? Promote it! Let us know that it's okay to ask questions and bring answers to the table from elsewhere. People pay consultants loads of money for information, so why not commend someone for seeking out free info? Maybe they should be internalizing the info once it's gathered from the outside source. That way the connection and info aren't just lost as soon as a person is out of the job...

    It would be neat for one's workplace value to be determined in part by external connections. (Possibly a good post idea?)

    June 16, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBen Eubanks

    Thanks for the comments, Ben. I think you touched on a really important point, namely that your external contacts bring a whole set of experience and insight that may not be present inside the organization. Leveraging that community can bring great benefits to your personal development and to the value you bring to an organization. Assessing the 'value' of external connections is an interesting idea, and one that deserves more consideration. Thanks for reading.

    June 17, 2009 | Registered CommenterSteve

    I do find myself reaching out more to my external networks via social networking services, but that's in part do to the smaller size of our organization; I don't work in a mid-size or enterprise-level company that has networks of thousands of employees. The collective outside experience and knowledge is invaluable to our firm. I believe it's invaluable to all firms. What once used to be bitter rivals in any marketplace, competitors are collaborating more and more in business. As the social collaboration software/service market matures, organizations are going to need to be plugged inside and out.

    June 19, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKevin W. Grossman

    Yikes, how did I miss this post? (busy week I think)

    It depends on the question. If I am trying to track down internal information, I have fab colleagues to whom I can turn.
    If it is really specialty stuff, esp immigration, I have external people to whom I turn.
    If it is very sensitive, its a phone call to people I know and trust.
    In higher education, it is so collaborative that I frequently will query listservs or email other colleagues. And of course some of the people on twitter.
    I don't know how we could standardize or quantify questions - since there is seldom one that is the same. Some of similar themes but each question has its own twist, if that makes sense.

    Great question .... will keep me thinking for a while.

    June 20, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDeirdre HR Maven

    Kevin - You make a great point about how folks in smaller organizations may be ahead of the game in the effective leveraging of the external community over folks in large and more traditional organizations. And you also make a great point about the shifting nature of relationship, competitors one day, and collaborators the next. Thanks so much for your observations.

    Deidre - Thanks for sharing some of your processes, I think you illustrate an excellent point; the information worker of today, in order to be effective, must utilize a wide range of sources and approaches to excel. The challenge that many firms are thinking about, and more technology tools are trying to address, is how to somehow capture and make part of the organizational DNA at least some of those wide-ranging processes you described. Thanks as always for your contribution to the discussion.

    June 21, 2009 | Registered CommenterSteve

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