Yammering Away!


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

StartingGetDesktop1. 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!

Follow2. 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.

YammerDesktop13. 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.

Reply16. If you like something then click “like” and then “reply” to tell the person who posted – we all appreciate being appreciated.

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.

Invite11. Invite someone else – send an invite to a colleague & learn about Yammer together.



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!

Webinar Overview – Your PLN, what’s in it for ALL of us?


This recent recorded session was a “Fine Focus” follow up to the preceding Serendipity session where we had looked at two topics. The second of these – a fleeting glimpse of PLNs was a bit “short-changed” in terms of time, so it seemed like a good idea to have a session on the significance of PLNs and some of the tools we each use. It must be emphasised that this was not a session on developing a PLN but very much a sharing of how our own PLN works for us and an opportunity to take away different ideas and tools.

The Session

As always with Fine focus sessions that I facilitate I gave the session a clear structure to differentiate it from Serendipity which are deliberately unstructured unconference sessions. Firstly we spent a few minutes sharing our understanding of the term PLN, and then highlighting its most important aspect for each of us.

MostImprtntNext we shared our own particular key tool – the one we felt played a pivotal role in our own PLN. Then we moved on to a look at how our PLNs look in our own minds. For this I tried out an experiment in using Elluminate slightly differently as I am always looking for alternative ways of doing things. Instead of using individual breakout rooms the group used their individual Elluminate work areas to draw a diagram/picture of how they perceived their PLN.  We then transferred these to the whiteboard with limited success. As an alternative to breakout rooms (when there are bandwidth issues  or time constraints) I think this has the potential to be a useful Elluminate strategy. I just need more practise and to be much clearer in how I explain the “how to”. We finished up with sharing the one tool or idea we felt we might take away from the session.


This was (for me) a really interesting session as I always enjoy finding out about how people use their PLNs. I also very much value that these sessions give me the opportunity to maintain and extend my Elluminate skills as well as to learn about other tools and strategies . I also had a great “take away” from the session in Yammer.  I have now explored this and begun a network for my workplace with several people already joining.

Next Week

SerendipitybsmallOur next Webinar is an Edublogs “Serendipity” session, one of our fortnightly unconference sessions where we invite you to bring along your “hot topics” and “burning issues” for our poll on the topic of the day. If you want to propose a topic in advance then visit the Serendipity Wallwisher and add your topic. Then join us on Thursday Sept 2nd at 23:00 GMT/UTC (7pm USA EST, Midnight BST) or Friday Sept 3rd at 1am CEST,7am West Aus, 9am NSW, depending on your timezone – in the usual Elluminate room

In the Future

If you are a regular visitor to our webinars you will know that we alternate “Fine Focus” sessions on specific topics with “Serendipity” the unconference sessions where we choose a topic by poll at the start of the session. Sometimes the very fact of being asked for “hot topics” or other ideas for discussion or learning tends to make our minds blank. This has prompted me to start a Serendipity Wallwisher for topic suggestions. Please visit the wall and add your ideas for Serendipity topics so that we have more choices to consider. Some of these ideas might also form the basis for future “Fine Focus” sessions.