Reflecting on “Navigating Your 2.0 Networks: Your Best Option May Still be to Pick up a Telephone

At first sight I loved the caption because as a contact center manager I always encounter a certain tension between 2.0 and phone. But after connecting to the arguments and rereading my recent posts about collaboration I admit that the post confuses me (which is a good thing).

For instance the fact that we have options with regard to channel, reach and richness creates opportunities for all parties. And Laura does an excellent job outlining her approach,  that resulted in opportunities and probably business, professional of personal value.

I do not know how you assess the effectiveness of phone calls or voice mail for any busy manager or professional. I bet that at several retries are necessary (and even than your destination may be a voice mail prompt)

And last but not least: in my networking activities I do not make a distinction between 2.0 Networks and the Old Rolodex. Essential can we both benefit in collaborating now or later!

Artist Anna Kharina
Artist Anna Kharina

From Laura M. Carrillo 2009/8/31

As I continue my study of how collaboration tools are providing value in the enterprise, I keep coming back to the fact that much of the real value comes from the knowledge the user has about which networks and channels work best for what.

Five years ago, you knew that reaching one VP was most efficiently accomplished via telephone, reaching a specific sales person worked best via email, and that one Director would react only when you could catch him/her in person.

Today, the channels to connect with people have grown immensely via tools like Skype, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Yammer and many others.

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While this creates the wonderful ability to maintain and reach a broader network of individuals it also creates a more complex web of networks to negotiate. If not used appropriately, the efficiency gains one might expect from collaborative tools could actually add to your workload vs. making you a more productive and efficient professional. Below are a few personal examples illustrating how I’ve used 2.0 tools to improve efficiency and add value to my work.

1. Over a year ago I was scheduled to speak with 2 executive clients at a large manufacturing company. The purpose of the call was to interview them for a research study our team was conducting on how collaboration tools are forcing companies to redefine their employee computing environments. The problem was that I only had first and last names of the contacts; I had no titles, departments or backgrounds. In this case the set of interview questions were specifically tied to individual’s roles, so I had no idea what question set to use. As is often the case, I was preparing for the next day at 9pm the night before, so I did not have a lot of options. I crossed my fingers and conducted a search on LinkedIn, hoping that at least one of the executives had a public profile. Thankfully they both did! Not only was I able to see their current job titles, I could also see their backgrounds. Based on this more detailed information we were able to adjust our questions, leading to a much more fruitful discussion. This relatively short preparation and interaction not only helped us to gather some great data points; it also helped my company develop a stronger client relationship. BTW: Yes, after the call I did “Link” to both executives on LinkedIn, along with my usual “thank you for speaking with us” message. This is quickly becoming a best practice for follow-up and maintenance of client relations.

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2. Just this Friday I was brainstorming with my Manager about ideas for my research on the ROI of collaboration. While I have the bulk of the study completed, I will spend this week pulling together a few more useful examples. My Manager suggested I reach out to a company; we’ll call XYZ Corp., who he had met with a while ago. The problem was that he could not recall the name or contact details of the individual he had spoken with. Fortunately he did know one of our co-workers who might have a contact. While still on the phone I jumped on Twitter and sent her a DM (Direct Message) to see if she had a current contact at XYZ Corp. Within minutes I had a DM back with name, title, email and phone details. The value here was not just in the quick response but in knowing that the quickest way to reach the person I needed was via Twitter, not Gmail, Skype or IM. If she was only a casual Twitter user it may have taken a few days to hear back so the efficiency would have been lost.

3. One last example occurred after “business hours” (does that still apply anymore?). It was late and I was preparing for an early morning client discussion. I had two quick questions that could only be answered by one of our head engineers. I knew that an email would most likely sit until the morning. I also knew that this individual was often on Facebook so I logged in and spent 5 minutes chatting with him. This short interaction provided the information I needed to have a successful interaction with our client the next day.

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Artist Anna Kharina
Artist Anna Kharina

Have I measured or monetized the time savings, productivity gains or added value of these activities? No, and I have found very few companies that have.

However, I don’t think anyone would argue the value derived from these interactions, especially given the quick turnaround required and achieved. The important take away is not how many people you’re connected to, or how many networks you participate in, it’s all about knowing how to navigate each channel to get what you need in the most efficient way possible. It’s also important to note that in some cases the best option is to forgo 2.0 tools altogether and simply pick up a telephone.


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