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Keeping it real in the virtual world

How many people do you only really ‘know’ through email, tweets and blogs? With so many of us spending an inordinate amount of time in digital dialogue, perhaps it’s time to put our networking skills to the test and ask; is it possible to make online relationships meaningful?

Mark Suster of Upfront Ventures has some great tips for turning text on a page into something more tangible, and for cultivating those online relationships you’d like to take to the next level – without coming on too strong.

“Figuring out how to engage is tricky” Mark tells us. “You want to be respectful.  You want to say something informed. You want to toe the line between friendly public comment and being smothering.” 

So here’s how to do it:

1. Blog is best

The best way to start building the online relationship is via their blog if they have one. If they don’t read their blog comments then they probably aren’t interested in building an online relationship. Keep comments brief unless it’s the perfect topic for you and you want to add to the story.

2. Don’t go immediately for the kill

There are times where you don’t know somebody but you engage just to get a conversation started or to be polite. You need to earn some name recognition and engagement before moving your relationship to the next level.

3. On Twitter add value, be funny, link or be brief

Twitter gives you the chance to get to know new people and you aren’t locked into a 20-minute conversation to do so. You can watch who comments with whom frequently and get a sense of who knows whom – It can be fun.

As with blogging, there are those who engage from time-to-time that you may feel you know and then there are those who come on too strong or pretend they’re your best buddy – not recommended.

It’s OK to be funny but be brief unless they talk back at you a lot or if you’re engaged in a good conversation. Respond from time-to-time but not to every one of their Tweets – don’t be a creep.

4. Don’t hop into conversations of people you don’t know.

You may see an interesting conversation happening that you want to get involved in but if you don’t know one of them it can be a bit inauthentic to hop in, reply and copy all of them. People do – but it’s bad form.

5. Be subtle, be occasional

Play the long game - don’t try to be noticed in your first engagement. Say something or two and then move on. Re-engage, but it doesn’t have to be every time or all the time.  Blogs you can comment on frequently but Twitter you need to be careful until you know them better.

6. Don’t assume engagement = knows you

If you meet at an event don’t assume that they must know your name because you’ve commented on their blog or you’ve shared the odd tweet – you’re not likely to be the only person they have an online relationship with.

7. Find a subtle way to close the loop

Once the relationship and trust has started to build and you’ve now met in person your online conversations can become richer and from a position of knowing that person better.

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Social networking and learning?

Over the past year or two the social networking phenomena has built at an incredible pace. Some businesses are beginning to see its potential whilst others see it as another way for lazy employees to avoid getting down to real work. What most commentators seem to agree on is that the ‘young’ are the real masters of social networking and will be the ones who bring it fully into the mainstream as they enter work.
I came across this article the other day that gives an insight to how social networking is entering the mainstream of business life. It will be interesting to see how it starts to impact on learning.

 

More than just training

We’re setting out on a project with a client that will combine technical with behavioural training. The project will involve designing and delivering sets of 4 short modules for at least 8 groups of delegates. To do this we’re working with both the client and a technical training company.

It strikes me that we’ve been able to easily offer more than just our training expertise already, for example:

  • With the importance of communication in mind we are suggesting we set up and host a shared workspace. This will make it easy to share files, and to talk to everyone involved.
  • We can offer useable templates for documents, branded to suit the client’s requirements.
  • We’ve also been able to provide a comfortable and professional meeting facility for the group, which is particularly relevant when it is a client who struggles to book meeting room space.

The programme is due to pilot in March so it’s going to be a busy time!

 

Back from Brasil

I’ve just returned from Brasil where I’ve been leading a trek in the mountains for people raising money for a charity. It’s been a great experience. I do it for fun really: It combines my own interest and experience in travel and the outdoors, with my experience of working with groups, and the satisfaction of introducing people to new things and learning.

Meanwhile in the office, everyone has been busy. We’ve landed some new work with existing clients and we have proposals in for my new work with both new and existing clients.

The business simulation we developed went really well, and we feel this is easily transportable to other clients and target groups and could be augmented with additional observation and feedback, and psychometrics.

Also new, and all happening while I was away, is our new 360 degree feedback tool. We now have the facility to deliver bespoke 360 degree feedback online and we ran this for a client a couple of weeks ago. The output was useful, and we’re also very please with the presentation of the material - online and in hard copy.