- About Us
- Our services
- Training Courses
- Contact Us
Elearning & Community
Who should you have thanked today?
A heart-felt “Thank You” means a great deal to the receiver. Even more so when you can make that Thank You a public mini-testimonial for the person you're appreciating. So here's six ways to say those two special words:
Send an unsolicited testimonial on LinkedIn. This will be a permanent thank you that your colleague can display with pride on their profile. Remember to make it meaningful. Be specific in what they did for you, and the effect it had. Consider using the STAR format: Describe the Situation or Task, then the Action they took, then the Results this action delivered.
Send a “Thank You” tweet through Twitter, and again, be specific about what they did, as this will help their followers understand how they can add value to their work. It will introduce them to your followers, too.
Recommend them as an EXPERT on LinkedIn. If you come across a question your colleague can answer, use the “SUGGEST EXPERT” button. They'll get an email giving them a chance to show off their expertise in style, and they'll know that you thought highly enough of them to recommend them in this way. Everyone loves being called an “expert”!
Use the “Follow Fridays” tradition on Twitter as a quick appreciative nod to anyone who has helped you out that week. Simply write a tweet that begins #ff and follow it with the @names of those you want to appreciate. This works as both public acknowledgement, and the gift of an introduction to all your followers.
Find a poem to post on their Facebook wall at http://www.squidoo.com/poemstosaythankyou.
And if you're really old-fashioned, you can still say it with flowers. Real ones. Search Twitter for a florist nearby, then tweet them your request. Try adding a place-name to this Google search string to find one to suit: "intitle:florist * on twitter" site:twitter.com
And if you enjoyed this post, a great way to say "Thank You" is to share it with your network. You'll find a "Share" button on the left side of the page.
We had a really successful staff development day not long ago, so I thought I might share the format - as it might be useful to other small companies or project teams. If you have a lot of associates and flexible workers as we do, it's important to get together now and then to catch up.
- Vision - the vision behind the company or project, the inspiration behind it all. Does the mission statement need renewing?
- Celebrate ourselves - review recent successes. It's easy to find in routine operational meetings that you're discussing mostly challenges and problems, and success is not lauded. You might find, as we did, that we had many successes to celebrate. We made time to thank one another for the support we got within the team.
- Review of projects, feedback from clients and learning points! We realised we had some strengths and skills we hadn't previously identified.
- Magic Wand - if you could wave a magic wand and change something for the company what would it it be? (We decided moving en masse to the Seychelles wasn't really on, but as we actively promote remote and flexible working, an employee moving to sunnier climes would not have to resign!) /more
- Beat the niggles - what really bugs you regularly that we could change? We ended up with some new more ergonomic chairs, productivity software and a "cooler" phone!
- Practicalities - new holiday forms or whatever systems are being introduced or improved.
- Value words - what are the concepts that we live by every day on our company / team? Do we all share them (we did!).
- Current projects - two-minute presentations on current projects from project managers so everyone knows a minimum.
- Future projects - what should we be doing - wacky ideas?
- Lunch - or other refreshments. We've found that good food helps to build a team.
It's a pretty simple format but it was effective for us.
Do you have any useful activities that have been particularly succesful for your team or group? Do let us know.
At Reach Further we’re often asked by clients for whom we’re setting up blogs what they should have as their blog policy. Where a company or organisation has a very clear handle on its image and brand and the way it wants to appear to its customers, potential customers and the world in general, then there may be a place for a full blog or social media policy that is integrated with procedures for print and other marketing.
Microsoft, have a very simple policy: “Blog smart”. Microsoft employees are encouraged to blog honestly about the company. Common sense and knowledge of the company ethos can be good enough for an intelligent blogger. For those who need a bit more guidance than “blog smart”, there are a few major principles of corporate blogging that can serve as a starting point for a blogging policy:
Five main principles:
- be honest, open and responsive,
- stay on topic,
- abide by existing rules, eg corporate branding guidelines, copyright,
- be aware of and respect the company’s confidentiality and proprietary information,
- be polite.
A full blogging policy can contain several more points, but they develop from the above principles. For example, a policy on encouraging and responding to comments develops from point 1, being responsive. These five principles are an positive start in creating a company blogging policy.
Every blog post starts with an idea. I’ve written previously about the types of blog post and how to “think blog” so that ideas flow to you. Don’t forget to keep track of those ideas! Now you have an idea, how do you turn it into a published blog post?
- Just write. Once you've got your idea, your topic, your angle, give yourself some time and write. For this first draft don't worry about editing, checking back – that's for the editing stage. Use the “free writing” - give yourself ten minutes, or twenty – and just keep going, don't stop. Dump out the contents of your brain on the subject. GY38PVJRN35E
- Now edit: That first draft won't be perfect. If you've done proper “free writing” it may be full of repetitions and unnecessary verbiage. Start to put in a structure, a beginning, a middle and an end. Make sure the arguments follow logically, one per paragraph. Clean up the grammar and check the punctuation. Polish those random thoughts into a coherent whole. This is the key step.
- Structure: Although a blog post is short, it needs to be able to be read by itself, in isolation, and it needs to be easy to read. It needs a good title, an opening sentence and paragraph, a description of context, a logical sequence of points, and, at the end, a sum-up or rounding up of what you've said.
- Don't say too much Quite often you will find that what you have is actually too long for a single blog post. This blog post itself became three in the editing. You're not writing an article or a short story: short and concise are the watchwords. However, it needs to be long enough to carry the reader with you – and posts do vary in length between blogs in within blogs. An introduction to a subject for the beginner, for example, will necessarily be longer – and even split across more than one post – when compared to a link post, which may be very short. There's no such thing as the ideal number of words or paragraphs for a blog post. With practice you will develop your own typical length.
- Use your own voice There's a lot said when one studies writing about “voice”. The main thing is, however, that you can use a template or an idea from other blogs or blogging courses like Reach Further's How to Blog course, but ultimately it is your blog and you will develop your own voice in which you are comfortable writing. If you're not naturally a comic, don't try to be funny. Tell your story in your own style and voice.
- Practice: Luckily a blog is the ideal format to learn to write, as your early posts will be eclipsed by your later and probably better ones. So long as you are honest, polite, and accurate – if they're good they'll be remembered, if they're not, they'll disappear into the trillions of words on the Web.
Picture by this lyre lark
In my previous posts about the roles and tasks within an online community or community-based social network, I discussed the roles of the Community Editor and Community Facilitator. Both these roles, but particularly that of the Community Facilitator, are really a combination of roles, but it helps to categorise the tasks according to the three levels of the Cohesion Model for Sustainable Online Communities and Social Networks. The first two of these levels, the Public and the Community levels, have been dealt with (briefly!) in the previous posts.
The third level is the Private or Individual level. This is often the level at which you'll find the “jam” - the motivation for an individual to join a community. Although a community is a place for communication and sharing, and the value of a community may ultimately be at that collaborative level, everyone's an individual at the point of joining, so it has to be worthwhile for them. There must be something that every member can get out of the community, or why would they bother? There are any number of communities and networks that we can all belong to and we haven't time for regular engagement in more than a few core communities and online forums. So every community or network has to offer real value.
This where the Member Services Manager comes in. She makes sure that the members are properly catered for.
Some of the tasks of the Members Services Manager (direct or delegated) could be described as follows (there are many more!):
- source special offers and member benefits
- manage subscriptions
- know the technology back to front
- monitor and maintain technology (hopefully with an excellent technical team!)
- monitor and maintain usability and accessibility
- deal with support issues
- provide help materials e.g., help texts, manuals, tutorial videos as appropriate
- make sure that members feel and are made welcome (though it may be, e.g., the community facilitator or members themselves who do the actual welcoming)
As with the other two roles these are just some of the tasks that fall in this area. For a small community such as for a sports club one person can take on most of the tasks with the support of the members, but if the community is professional, international or has more than a few dozen members, then invariably the jobs begin to expand if the community is to be a success. We'll look into these roles further in future blog posts.
The core principle of The Cohesion Model for Sustainable Online Communities and Social Networks (as described in my previous post on 13th November) is that there are effectively three levels within a community - the Public, the Community or Collaborative, and the Private or Individual level. There is a role associated with each of these and we have defined the tasks associated with each role. In the first post in this series I described the role of the Community Editor.
The model is necessarily refined and improved with each community that we run, and nowhere is that more relevant than in the second of the key roles, that of the Community Facilitator. This role has many names, and indeed may vary depending on the context: it may be called the Community Manager, the Community Moderator, the E-moderator or the Community Lead. For example, there may be organisational reasons why the title Manager is not appropriate, or in FE Colleges the word Moderator is not used because it has a completely different meaning. Whichever job title you use, the Community Facilitator is a key role, and I could not begin to describe all the tasks involved in a single blog post (I teach full courses on how to undertake the role).
Often those who set up communities with little experience underestimate the time and resources that this role requires. Yet without it, a community is doomed to failure.
Some of the tasks of this role are:
- listening to the community (as for the Community Editor role)
- welcoming new members
- facilitating discussions and interactions
- avoiding or dealing with problems
- setting and maintaining the tone
- monitoring and modelling good behaviour
- responding to queries
- giving information and signposting sources of information elsewhere
- representing the owner(s) and stakeholders of the community to the memebrs and vice versa, as appropriate
- planning community events, online and offline
- providing learning opportunities and resources (because all communities of practice are learning communities to a greater or lesser extent even if that is not their main raison d'etre)
As with the Community Editor, this role may be split between several people, for example, some may set policies and deal with any problems while others take part iin the community being helpful and facilitating interaction. The roles of course overlap somewhat, especially when dealing with content that necessarily moves between the levels, for example when a collaborative group within the community produce a presentation or article to be shared outside the community, or a piece of public content is use to spark a community discussion.
In the next post in this series I'll look at the tasks for the third domain of online community - the Private or Individual level.
The Cohesion Model for Sustainable Online Communities and Social Networks has been developed by Reach Further over the past three years, and based on rather more than 15 years of experience in online communities and social networks before that. It's also informed by the literature on learning communities, communities of practice, and e-moderating. We've found that the same principles can apply across many types of online community, large or small, and our model has been proven to be robust, adaptable and technology-independent.
The model describes three main domains within a community - the Public, the Community or Collaborative, and the Private or Individual level. The balance of these is different in different communities, but cannot be ignored altogether. Effective maintenance and nurturing of each of these domains is crucial to the success of the community, especially in its early start-up period (which may be days, weeks, months or years, depending on the type of community and how niche it is!). Thus we have begun to define roles and the tasks associated with them in each domain.
The key role in the public domain is that of the community editor. The editor requires strong writing, communication and editorial skills and a capacity to understand and listen to the members and their needs (and to any other stakeholders). Some of the tasks of this role are:
- Collecting, collating and making available content
- Choosing RSS feeds both inbound and outbound
- Extracting useful information from the community and making it available more widely
- Sourcing information requested by the community
- Setting policies
- Maintaining public information conduits such as Twitter
- Planning events
- Setting tone in the sector
Depending on the size of the community this may be a distinct role, or part of a community manager's role, or carried out by a group of volunteers or a committee of members. Whoever doees the job though, the tasks, and their importance, remain the same.
The British Council have launched their search for the young interactive entrepreneur award. Especially for those looking for opportunities in India. The British Council are "seeking the brightest young business talent in the interactive sector: entrepreneurial, aged 25-35, with at least 3 years professional experience and the drive to push the boundaries of the interactive industry. The award offers an amazing opportunity to extend your international business network. Six finalists will be selected to undertake a tour of the interactive industry in India where they will meet their peers and industry leaders, gaining valuable insights into the market and the way businesses operate there. The winner will receive a £5,000 grant to be spent on a collaborative project with India.
Applications close at 2pm on Monday 7 September 2009.
For more information and details of how to apply visit the website.
Reach Further's visionary MD Liz Cable (right) was a speaker at the "Women into Leadership" event on 26th June at Leeds Metropolitan University. The event was organised by the UK Resource Centre for Women in Science and Technology and the West Yorkshire Lifelong Learning Network. Liz talked about the enabling potential of remote and flexible working for women in management and leadership positions.
Addition: More about this even at the website for the UK Resource Centre for women in Science, Engineering and Technology
Business Link has announced the Social Enterprise Yorkshire and the Humber awards - now in their 6th year - which aim to celebrate and recognise the achievements of social entrepreneurs in the region.
Sponsored by Business Link the SEYH Awards provide a platform for Social Enterprises in Yorkshire and the Humber to showcase themselves and their achievements, culminating in an awards dinner to be held on 21 October 2009 at Doncaster Racecourse.
There are five award categories:
- Start up of the Year
- Social Enterprise in Education
- Innovation in Enterprise
- Social Entrepreneur of the Year
- Social Enterprise of the Year
Judges will be looking for outstanding examples of businesses that are delivering real social impact and competing effectively in a commercial market.