Social networking has been around for a while and has become an integral part of our lives. The idea that it has become so important to our daily lives is creating serious implications for businesses. You are most likely already aware of the business benefits it could provide your team and even the objections/myths your business leaders have, but have you stopped to think about the benefits for the business?
Shouldn't your boss already know this? Well, then where should you begin if you want to talk your leaders into investing in social networking?
Executives are no fools, and didn't get to where they were by ignoring trends. They would have heard of the benefits, but want to be sure that this won't become another passing fad, or just a time wasting internal Facebook, cluttered with pictures & posts about parties, dinners & pets.
If your senior leadership hesitates at jumping in on an Enterprise Social Network, here are some ways to persuade them to give it a shot.
1. Find Your Story
Maybe you love the cool tools, but have you shown them why or how Enterprise Social Networking could help your organization? Features & functionalities alone will not be sufficient for your boss – solid evidence supporting the value of social business is a vital instrument. That means you need to sell the benefits instead of the features. There are so many things you can do that no executive in the world would complain about, so you should start with something non-threatening and easy. A temporary project would be ideal, because the idea of temporary is less threatening.
To do this you may need to start small, and get a pilot scheme running (which is also a good opportunity to involve middle management and find your champion). Always tie social networking to a business case.
If you aren't able to find a business case, then case studies of enterprise social collaboration from other businesses are another way to demonstrate success and reduce the perceived risk. Of course, it never hurts to highlight how it has been beneficial to competitors, but having the first mover advantage is probably more beneficial.
2. Find your champion
You need to find a champion, someone who will not back down, especially when facing senior stakeholders who are invested in or unwilling to change from legacy systems and procedures.
Champions are the agents of change who can drive social business initiatives, and they are the people who see things a little differently, and know there is a more social approach to operating business as usual. A strong personality is an essential requirement for encouraging a company to adopt social networking.
This means that a social business champion needs to have a great deal of courage, as the ability to take risks – often at their own expense – is what drives social business forward.
If you have to face middle management before reaching key stakeholders, finding someone at this level who is already aware of social media and its value can help improve your chances and give you a strong ally.
3. Update top executives frequently
You need to let them know what’s happening and keep them as informed as possible. When you do so, don’t talk about the emerging possible solutions; instead, provide information on how you are understanding the challenge. In this way, executives will more easily grasp the solution once you present it.
4. Involve top executives
Tell the bosses to “Get on board”. Taking this step in bridging the gap may take some courage but by doing so you will not only receive precious insights but also stronger support, because executives will feel like it was their idea. Getting them involved can be a very strong mechanism to win stakeholders early, particularly when presenting the solution. It also helps to buy into the initiative before the business case is presented, since celebrating positive business outcomes are what motivates senior management.
5. Publicize your wins
When something great happens, which it will – make sure everybody in your organization knows about it by sharing the results via intranets, e-mails, discussions, internal meetings, etc. Spread the word as far as you can.
While the main challenge may be getting approval from senior executives, demonstrating the value and generating buzz from the bottom up can show that there is not only a need for enterprise social network, but a willing and prepared pool of evangelists who are ready to encourage adoption.