Sharing, Sharing, Sharing

16 Aug

I was a Scout leader many years ago when my kids were young. They are all grown up now but I still remember the Beaver motto – Sharing, Sharing, Sharing.

OK, you need a simple motto for 5-7 year old kids . . . but it is a powerful concept; especially if what you are talking about is sharing knowledge or expertise.

The rapid increase in the popularity of social networking and social media channels could have a huge effect on people, especially professionals and associations if people were generally willing to share their ideas and insights. I opened many a classroom training session with the statement “We all know more than any one of us” to encourage sharing and participation. Mentoring and apprenticeship have been fundamental and very effective forms of training and education since forever. Associations have a very powerful but often untapped asset in their members capabilities and expertise. Many associations have tried mentoring and even eMentoring with some success, but are people willing to share their knowledge online?

A recent study of 300 highly educated professionals who actively participate in social media networks called “The Social Mind” indicates that some are:

  • 80% participated in groups online to help others by sharing information ideas and experiences
  • they spent 40% of their time online interacting in peer-based communities

This is crucially important to associations. Senior staff of any professional association should take notice that motivated people are learning that they can have influence and can build a reputation beyond their workplaces in online communities of peers. In fact, all association staff need to realize the huge impact of social networking and how it may affect their jobs.

Forget the social in social networking; for associations it is mostly about networking. On a very simple level, people facing a problem, challenge or situation they are not familiar with have always looked for good information and someone they can go to that should know the answer. They could turn to a co-worker, colleague, boss, coach, supplier or anyone that is willing to help out or point them in the right direction. The first reaction is usually to ask someone close by but the advent of social networking on the internet means people are learning that experts and expert opinion can be accessed online.

Once your association or group starts to build an online body of knowledge that is seen by all, that has comments and questions associated with it, that every member can see who posted and what their reputation is, you have a constantly growing asset that is invaluable, especially to new members. And perhaps the best part, is that once started, this asset will grow without much staff time commitment provided you have systems that allow comments on posts and perhaps a flagging system that allows members to flag inaccurate or inappropriate items. AssociCom software even has an adjudication system that allows the membership to suggest actions and vote on flagged items. The administrators have the final say but the process is very democratic.

Despite Google’s best efforts pertinent information is often difficult to find. People need help to identify what is valuable. Being able to see what the high reputation experts are collecting and their comments on what others have collected is a form of social curation that is also very powerful and the subject of another blog here.

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