Working Out Loud

I’ve been following John Stepper’s journey for many years, we met in person at a Melcrum conference where we both had to do a terrifying quick fire presentation. He’s as amazing in person as he is virtually. And you can find out more about his work here Working Out Loud

On my return from maternity one of my colleagues shared that she’s starting to work out loud through the Community Roundtable and on a weekly basis she is sending me her list and in our one to ones we have started to discuss the book a few chapters at a time.

I am a big fan – in fact one of the areas we’ve been looking at within our Jive community is how can we encourage working out loud amongst colleagues. Over the years iterations of the Jive platform and changes to UI has pushed the ability to work out loud deeper into the weeds. At Pearson we used to ask the question “what are you working on?” front and centre of our homepage.

One of our first homepages in 2011

Alas we no longer have this capability and I think our community is suffering because of it. I no longer hear the anecdotal stories describing the serendipity moment that we had in the early days. I miss it.

What is the answer? Do we bring the status update back to our homepage? I’m not convinced this is the right way to go…our community is more mature some of our users are now more sophisticated than that. Which brings me back to Working Out Loud. John recommends creating WOL circles and we’ve talked about creating a dedicated space in our community for working out loud.

The challenge is bringing 36,000 people with you. It is a change in behaviour and change in the way people work and we all know change, engagement and communication can be really really hard.

Never one to step away because something is hard, we’re going to start small we’re going to model the behaviour ourselves and we’ll bring people along with us.

Of course this also means a massive shift for me because I’ve discovered working out loud isn’t coming naturally to me. But I am committed and I want to change my behaviour because I am a massive believer in setting out your intentions.

So here I am committing to working out loud and sharing my experience with you.

Networking 101

IMG_5802I read this (short) article today How to end a conversation any conversation gracefully – there isn’t much in the article that is new but it did remind me of a situation I found myself in recently. The article is essentially giving you some top tips for ending a conversation with purpose thus leaving a positive first/last impression; networking 101 if you like.
Whilst reading the article my mind wondered to a networking event I attended recently where the start and finish of the conversation was irrelevant it was the behaviour in the middle that disturbed me the most. I was pulled into the conversation and introduced to the group, one individual didn’t seem to be able to engage in the conversation, his eyes were darting to the door and and he did lots of disingenuous nods and “hmmm’s very interesting”. Eventually he left, he’d clearly spotted someone far more important, interesting and I was relieved. Because what I realised is this person was making me feel very uncomfortable and their disinterest left me questioning the value I was adding to the conversation

Lucky for me I have a thick skin, I also used the other people I was talking to as a benchmark for the value being created in the discussion and I came to the conclusion this person was plain rude.

The lasting impact for me is i’ve now got a very negative view of this person and it has tainted my view on all of their work and i’ve actually found myself having a conversation about this person with someone else and we both came to the same conclusion this individual is someone we’d prefer not to work with.

Networking is one of the best ways to make contacts, meet new people, share ideas and passions, but remember you never know who is watching how you behave, it is worth being mindful of how you start a conversation, end it and behave in the middle of it.

Networking 101:

Be present: leave the mobile on silent and most importantly leave it in your pocket. If you have to check messages make your excuses and take some time out deal with the emergency and then return.

Ask questions: being curious can work really well if your an introvert as it will give you an opportunity to take a back seat and listen, if you are an extrovert asking questions is a good way of taking a step back and allowing others to speak.

Have energy: this might just be a smile, it might be sharing your stories or knowledge with passion. Energy is contagious whether you are acknowledging someone else’s story or telling your own. It will make for a memorable connection.

Be true to your word: if you commit to helping someone by introducing them to someone you know or sharing information or content make sure you follow through.

Be authentic: people will see through your false smile, disingenuous nods and compliments, if you can’t be authentic perhaps it is time to leave the conversation.