I have recently (in the last two weeks) initiated a Yammer network in my workplace. A few weeks ago in one of our Serendipity unconference webinars Yammer came up as one of the Web2.0 tools that someone was using in their organisation. As a committed Twitter user who has gained a huge amount both professionally and personally from my Twitter stream and how it fits into my PLN I thought that Yammer might be a good tool for my organisation. We are distributed over several campuses, people are often off campus for a variety of reasons and “corporate knowledge” is widely distributed and fragmented. A network such as Yammer provides opportunities to seek immediate answers to those quick questions we ask colleagues many times a day and to share ideas, information, knowledge and links about all aspects of our work.
What I did
To start with I initiated the network by signing up and then inviting four colleagues to join. Since then I have invited another three, and am about to invite a further three. My hope is that this will grow organically – I am totally convinced that trying to force adoption of this type of innovative (for many organisations including mine) approach to networking and sharing is counter-productive. Already several of my colleagues have invited others and at the moment we have 14 members and a further 13 who have been invited but not yet joined.
Only two of my colleagues are (to my knowledge) at the moment on Twitter, they are both new to it – and I am sure they won’t mind me saying that they are a bit apprehensive about networking in this way. When I started using Twitter I felt much the same way and it took me a while to “get into it”. However as none of my colleagues have used this type of networking strategy before I find myself “yammering” various suggestions and thoughts that might help people experiment, learn and ultimately enjoy this form of networking. So it seemd to me that it might be useful to post about these and then I can just use the link rather than filling the Yammer stream with all those suggestions on a frequent basis, so here are some of my ideas. These come largely out of my own experience with Twitter but with some modifications because in some ways an organisational Yammer network is very different from Twitter.
Tips for getting the most out of Yammer
1. Get the desktop app – this is a narrow window with tabs that you can leave on your screen all day and it updates pretty much in real time. It doesn’t matter if you minimise it or bury it under other windows you can take the occasional look to see if anything of interest to you has appeared or if anyone has asked a question that you might be able to help with. YOU DON’T HAVE TO LOOK AT IT! Ignore it, hide it, close it – the choice is yours. At least it’s there if YOU want to ask a question!
2. Follow people – otherwise you will miss their yams unless you watch the “Company Feed” instead of your own “My Feed”. If someone follows you you don’t have to follow them back but hey why wouldn’t you? We all need each other’s knowledge and support.
3. Participate – join the convo (conversation); start a convo yourself; share a link; share an idea; answer a question; ask a question. Participators usually seem to get more out of these kinds of networks than lurkers (those who just observe and take useful things from the network without contributing).
4. KEEP IT SHORT! no more than 150-200 characters is best, OK we will all go over that occasionally but don’t let it become a habitl The global network Twitter limits to 140 characters – teaches us to be concise J.
5. Remember the social dimension – it oils the wheels of the professional interactions! It’s not a hanging offence to say social things – we all say social things in face-to-face situations, online networks are no different.
7. You can aim a message at a particular person use @ in front of user name (message is public) or use the user name without @ and the message is private
8. Fill in some of your profile info – not necessarily all of it but preferably include an avatar (pic or image to represent you) it doesn’t have to be a photo, any image that feels right to you is fine as long as it doesn’t offend others.
9. If you share a special interest with some colleagues make/join a group. Your messages can be public or private
10. If you want to give Yammer your best shot – remember anything new is hard at first. Give yourself a goal eg skim the stream at least a couple of times a day and post something at least once each day.
For any Manager or Administrator out there who thinks that this is a time wasting toy and not appropriate for work – just a reminder that it can:
- help to collect and disseminate the sort of corporate knowledge that organisations have spent much time and money trying to preserve and share for many years not least through Communities of Practice
- save time spent trying to find the person with the answer to a particular question
- make useful links more easily accessible to more people
- increase collegiality
Yammer is what you want it to be and what you make it for YOU!