Smart Workers Will Figure This Out: Social Media = Career Advancement

Do you think you’ve got more to contribute to your organization than you’ve had a chance to show? I’ll bet you do too.

There have been a fair number of posts about the adoption rate of web 2.0 inside companies. In my previous work doing enterprise 2.0 product marketing for BEA Systems, I can confirm a growing interest out in the corporate world.

But interest from the higher-ups is one thing. What makes the employees actually want to wiki/blog/tag/comment/tweet?

I came across this comment on an old Nick Carr post, Web 2.0’s Numbskull Factor:

Successful adoption [of web 2.0 inside companies] is likely to be driven by the usual three support cycles involved in effective change: achieving personal benefits from using them, seeing peers achieving the same benefits and continuous management support over the 24-36 months required to embed them in business as usual.

Graham Hill, PriceWaterhouseCoopers

Graham’s three elements are spot on. In this post, I want to discuss the first two cycles he discusses. The third cycle is for another post.

Personal Benefits Come in Two Flavors

In a company setting, personal benefits mean one thing:

How will it improve my career?

I know that’s a bit crass. But I think it speaks to what energizes us to work. You want recognition that you can “bring it”.

Two ways such an outcome occurs with social media/web 2.0:

  1. Makes me better at my job and strengthens relationships with colleagues
  2. Others with the power to advance my career start to form a good impression of me

In terms of improving your work, web 2.0 apps offer a variety of benefits. That’s actually going to be future post.

The second benefit is one of reputation. I think all us who work in big companies know that reputations are vital to career advancement. You form impressions of others, which frames your view of their work. And most assuredly, others form impressions of you.

In the typical work environment, you interact with others via email, phone, team meeting. Contributions are made, but not recorded. Knowledge of your effort is silo’d and much of the good stuff we do is invisible.

Social media changes the game. As projects run through wikis, a permanent record of your contributions is created. Your comments are visible and searchable, greatly increasing their value relative to verbal contributions or email. A blog post with a good idea is accessible everywhere, at any time. It also can be shown as the spark for that killer product the company introduced. Your tagging of internal data is like Louis Gray sharing posts from Google Reader. People love your tags.

You also get to step outside of your assigned duties, and weigh in on the big issues facing the company. Always felt like you’ve got a good bead on areas the company needs to address? But your manager and peers aren’t really interested? Blog about it. Tweet about it. Comment about it. Establish your cred. If your thinking pans out, you’ve got a basis for demonstrating your contributions.

The other thing is this. Your contributions via social media need to help others. As you offer insight, decisions and ideas, others will find value in your contributions. Well beyond the normal four walls of that cubicle you’re sitting in. You can build relationships with geographies, business units and departments that are not normally in your work sphere.

To recap the benefits of social media for you:

  • Work better
  • Get beyond relying only on the annual review, create an electronic trail of your work
  • Show you can contribute to larger issues affecting the company
  • Establish relationships with people outside your daily social circle
  • Build – better yet, control – your internal reputation

Peers Getting the Benefits

This one is pretty basic. You know those mass internal emails calling out an individual or team for doing something really outstanding? Don’t you love those?

Well, social media will have some of that. You’ll be on the company portal or wiki, and you’ll see a complimentary message for someone’s work on it. If it’s anything like what I see on FriendFeed or Twitter, there will be several of these messages. A great way to give the “atta boy” or “atta girl” to someone’s work.

And everyone else seeing these complimentary messages will start to get the hint. My colleagues are starting to have an impact. I’d better participate.

Final Thoughts

Workers already have a host of channels with which to establish their reputation: project teams, emails, meetings, water cooler. For some, adding web 2.0 apps is just another thing they have to worry about.

Smart employees are going to see things differently. These tools offer the chance to better contribute, to get a better read on the pulse of the company and to better control one’s reputation. A chance to change the rules for career advancement.


If you want an easy way to stay on top of Enterprise 2.0, I invite you to join the Enterprise 2.0 Room on FriendFeed. The room takes feeds for Enterprise 2.0-related items on Twitter, and SlideShare. To see this room, click here:


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About Hutch Carpenter
Chief Scientist Revolution Credit

One Response to Smart Workers Will Figure This Out: Social Media = Career Advancement

  1. Pingback: Technology Gazette Episode 39- Natali Del Conte of Loaded from CNET TV joins us | Technology Gazette

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