A new CV … of value for the aspirational Knowledge Manager

At a recent Knowledge Management Mini-Conference arranged by Helen Palmer from RHX Group, it was refreshing to once again see the difference between “knowledge worker” and “Knowledge Manager” articulated. Here is the definition of each as explained by Helen:

knowledge worker
- a class of workers (like ‘blue-collar worker’); knowledge-savvy; primary work purpose is creating, distributing and applying knowledge

Knowledge Manager
- a title of a particular role (like ‘Finance Manager’); a person who has expertise in meta-abilities to do with creation, acquisition, distribution, application and retention of knowledge in organisational contexts

This provided some very interesting insight into my career to date. I have spent nine years working on a variety of significant organisational change projects for the State Government, spanning both Human Resources and Information Management change. This culminated in my role as secretariat for the Executive Sub-Committee for Information Management and ICT for the Department of Health. This was a job that had huge knowledge and change management requirements, but due to the bureaucratic nature of government was often highly administrative.

This led to a very interesting conversation between Helen and I about the career paths for aspiring Knowledge Managers (and Change Managers).

The emerging challenge

The emergence of Knowledge Management (I would argue including Change Management, Information Management and Learning) as a critical workplace vocation and skill set has oft been discussed as a part of the evolution of the 21st century worker. The management of corporate knowledge, as well as individual knowledge (including creativity) is both essential and nebulous. What has become apparent in the last 20 years is that knowledge management is both a specialised and a general skill set. Everyone must manage their own knowledge at the micro level, but the organisational knowledge is managed by a skilled professional at the macro level, to facilitate knowledge sharing and maximise the business benefits of knowledge as an organisational asset.

In this context the professional Knowledge Manager is emerging distinct from the more common “knowledge worker”. The formation of this sector has seen many Knowledge Managers discover their profession usually through serendipitous career progression, usually from an administrative, clerical, technical or professional service role. Being in the right place at the right time. This is on the verge of a boom, as open information sharing and natural (multi-disciplinary) learning methods become the norm, and young professionals (like myself) are realising the value and importance of managing organisational knowledge.

My professional background

In my endeavour to pursue a career in Knowledge Management I entered the Public Sector straight out of university through the Graduate Recruitment Program and knew my Bachelor of Arts/Business background gave me a bent toward generalisation rather than specialisation. It was to my surprise that my role in Organisational Development with one department was quite staid and lacking in Change Management. Also it was not as adept with technology as the broader industry. Therefore, following a few projects I moved to the Office of CIO in another department. This breadth of experience taught me a lot about different approaches to Knowledge Management, between “people knowledge” and “machine knowledge”. I still felt my government career experience was not matching the pace of industry change that I was observing outside of my job.

For a lot of this time I felt like a worker without a job title. When asked what it was I did in my job, the answer was variations of “projects of various kinds”, “at the moment, but that might change”, or “oh, I deal with organisational knowledge and change” – all of which attracted blank looks.

What is the Corporate Lattice?

The 2010 book, The Corporate Lattice: Achieving High Performance in the Changing World of Work written by Cathy Benko and Molly Anderson for Harvard Business Review Press, and well summarised in this Deloitte Review article, did much to form my view of the modern career. When I so often had to battle corporate silos, my view was that if people had sideways career moves as frequently as promotions, most of these battles would disappear.

The future career pattern is a lattice not a ladder

The future career pattern is a lattice not a ladder

The current day CV is designed on the premise that the corporate ladder still exists. Stating your work history in ascending order (most recent first) gives a visual construct of a linear and upwardly mobile career. It doesn’t accommodate sideways career moves, whether that is to shift industries, start your own business, or re-locate to a different city or country. It also creates a presumption that new work builds upon old work – therefore new work is considered more relevant, and work more than three years old is redundant. Modern careers now show that knowledge is gained across many years, and multi-disciplinary experience is a strength not a liability, but the modern CV fails to express that.

The Portfolio CV

When discussing the Corporate Lattice with Helen, and my experience with it, she mentioned to me what she called her “Portfolio CV”. This format effectively turns the modern CV on its head and draws out activities of a knowledge worker that may identify potential Knowledge Management capability. It is a concise 4 page document, with the following pages.

1. Cover Page

Provide contact details, biographical summary, and list of strengths/capabilities relevant to role.

Content is customised for the role which the CV represents; may have multiple CVs to represent different roles or specialities.

2. Portfolio Page

Accurately specify selected pieces of work that support the claims on the Cover Page (Regardless of the currency, industry or whether it was paid, volunteer or extracurricular.  If you’ve done it once, you can do it again)

Content is drawn from a list or ‘database’ of relevant work.

3. Testimonials Page

List quotes and feedback from clients, managers and peers; it confirms the quality and impact of the work explained on Portfolio Page.

Content is drawn from a list or ‘database’ of relevant quotes.

4. Details page

List employment placements, qualifications and other facts of relevance.

Content is constant between versions.

In my instance, creating a Portfolio CV was quite easy for pages 1,2 and 4 – the challenge was page 3. Public servants are well trained on the precautions required when putting statements on the record. It took quite a bit of foraging and chasing, but I was able to get some testimonials from previous co-workers and managers. In discussing these challenges Helen described that it is a trait of saavy professionals to keep their network engaged and collect written testimonials. Coming from an industry where long tenures are the norm and silos run deep, that is something that I have realised through this experience.

Strengths/Weaknesses

Having come through this process, I now have a very interesting career document. One that definitely defines my Knowledge Management and Change Management experience very clearly. However, I get the sense that the recruitment industry in Australia is not completely ofay with the multi-disciplinary nature of KM and CM. The most success I have had to date has been through discussions with other Knowledge Managers. Others still appear to think of Knowledge Management as a heightened records keeper, and Change Manager as a project manager with pizzazz.

In closing, I’d like to return to this concept of a KM career path. Of all the colleagues I’ve spoken to about how they got into Knowledge Management, it has always be a circuitous route, a chance project, or a fortunate happenstance that helped reveal their aptitude for Knowledge Management. But where is the feeder pool for the next generation of Knowledge Managers; where are the 2ICs and the deputies/juniors to the current crop of KM field leaders?

This blog post was written by guest author Christoph Hewett. Christoph is General Manager of Resonant Integrity Training Solutions, a consultancy for knowledge, change and learning.

Image credit/source: Wikimedia

Reduce knowledge loss with Knowledge Transfer Report

Retention of Critical Knowledge (or ROCK) is a popular concern in organisations or groups with retiring workforce or turnover of personnel.

Often initiatives to retain knowledge focus on turning the details of what people know into codified forms or documentation. This makes it more possible for others (maybe unknown today) to read (or watch) in a different place or at a different time.

Codifying knowledge affords an immutability and mobility of the knowledge. Immutability fixes the knowledge in time, preserving it across time. Mobility means it can move beyond its creator and point of creation.

Immutability and mobility are seductive notions for knowledge capture:

  • An upside of immutability is that you can feel certain about codified knowledge as fixed definitive content and this can give rise to a sense of community and continuity. A downside – it probably stopped being definitive before the proverbial ink dried.
  • An upside of mobility is that it can readily circulate. A downside – it needs supporting context to enable decisions about its relevance somewhere else; and if this is missing, its less usefulness is limited or non-existent.

Trying to capture a substantive portion of what a person knows in a codified form is akin to writing a book on the person. And if it gets written, will anybody have the time or motivation to read it?

How about instead writing the Table of Contents on a person’s knowledge?

Enter the Knowledge Transfer Report. A succinct document that lists all the essential important topics and points to where to get details. Those details may be explicitly in a database, website or document; or more importantly, held implicitly (or tacitly) in an individual or group of individuals.

The design of the report addresses the issue of immutability by allowing for micro details (Chapter & Verse) to change while providing macro details (Table of Contents) which are more likely fixed. The form of the report gives a vehicle for circulating the knowledge.

The Table of Contents (ToC) concept embodies an organisation structure with sequence and/or logical groupings with which to traverse a body of knowledge. It’s the map of the territory – rather than detailed step-by-step instructions. It’s scannable and doesn’t need to be ‘read’ for the user to get immediate value. Re-using the form of ToC for the report content, empowers the user of the Report the freedom to explore and discover within useful parameters.

Learn about the technique: the process and template.

Share with us about your experimentation with the Knowledge Transfer Report, and other practical ideas to enable retention of critical knowledge.

Helen Palmer is Principal Consultant at RHX Group. She thinks critically about knowledge work, and how to ensure knowledge isn’t wasted. She revels in tackling the big processes of change and learning so that ideas become impact. With her colleagues at RHX Group, Helen helps teams make better use of their people, knowledge and information.

Creatively packaging knowledge

A common response to the risk of losing knowledge is to capture or document it.  This is a worthy activity. However, how often is what is captured or documented, actually read or used? One factor may be the format or medium used to present the knowledge. This blog presents some creative  ways you might package knowledge to make it appealing, and more importantly easy to digest and thus apply.

A selection

* Recipe metaphor

One expertise I have and use is in designing and leading the change process for an organisational change.  I like to employ creative ways of engaging with people in change to providing a meaningful experience while also addressing their wellbeing (physical, mental and emotional).  I redefined a ‘go-live preparation’ activity using the analogy of air travel.  In order to share the idea with other practitioners, I used the metaphor of a recipe to explain the essential elements and thus enable others to easily replicate and even adapt the idea for other contexts.

Sample ‘Fly away together – change activity’

* Game show presentation

When the opportunity arose to present a client case-study at a conference on ‘managing change (as a designed user experience)’ , I gave the conference participants their own user experience with a game-show format. I packaged the knowledge of the case study into 12 mini packages (1 slide, 3-4 min of talking points) that become elements of the game-show. The audience chose from the 12 about the aspects of the case study they were most interested in.

Sample ‘Managing change as a designed user experience’ [45 min audio with video of the slide deck]

* Graphical resume with timeline

Somebody has already down the work of curating a small collection of resumes to inspire doing things differently. A key idea is turning your chronological work history into a graphical timeline.

Samples ’7 Cool Resumes Found on Pinterest’

* Graphical rich report of survey results

Kea New Zealand exists to connect ‘talented Kiwis and Friends of New Zealand’ around the world. (I’m a Kiwi!) One of their activities is to survey expatriates to understand their choices about living away from NZ and engaging with NZ from a distance.  The 2013 report of this survey is visually rich in graphics, colour and icons. How more compelling is this to read and understand than pages of prose, plain tables and bullet points?

Sample ‘Kea Every Kiwi Counts 2013 Report’

* Advice about better practice in an infographic

There are often arguments that if you want to motivate people to change their behaviour you need to offer social proof; or use facts and figures; or use colourful images. Here is an example combining all of these.

Sample ‘Taking Breaks at Work’

Other advice includes provide a compelling narrative (aka story); or a large dose of humour that might trigger awareness of a reality we haven’t been prepared to face – we are laughing at ourselves!

Sample ‘How to lead a creative Life’

* Graphic recording of group conversation

One master of the art of graphic recording is Lynne Cazaly. She offers a worthwhile and recommended learning sessions called ‘Catch-It’. Learn how to visually think and record the conversation of a group in real-time. Rather than read about this – experience it!

Sample ‘Video showing graphic recording by Lynne’ (1:45 min)

Recommended reading

These references in my collection have been a source of inspiration and practical guidance to me in creatively packaging knowledge. .

I hope this selection has got your creative juices humming. As a knowledge worker we often create knowledge products – let’s find and use ways to do this innovatively.  I hope you will share other examples you have created or have seen.

Helen Palmer is Principal Consultant at RHX Group. She thinks critically about knowledge work and how to ensure knowledge isn’t wasted. She revels in tackling the big processes of change and learning, so that ideas become impact. With her colleagues at RHX Group, Helen helps teams make better use of their people, knowledge and information.

Image credit: Microsoft Online Clipart

The way of kindness

Can knowledge work be influenced by the mindset of kindness?  Why not a kindful quality of knowledge and knowledge-sharing!

I’ve recently been introduced to the World Kindness Movement (WKM). It’s based on the idea that our world will be more compassionate and peaceful if a critical mass of acts of kindness is ignited.

I had an recent inspirational and energetic conversation with Michael Lloyd-White, General Secretary to WKM and Chairman/Founding Director of World Kindness Australia who passionately shared stories of what was happening with the movement. The conversation stimulated my thinking about ways I could be a useful ‘broker’ to keep this knowledge and energy flowing. I thought of …

  • Hand ReachingThose among my contacts who would embrace such an idea and how I would approach them;
  • Meaningful messages I could share with key people;
  • Using my interest in origami to package the idea and capture an audience’s attention; and
  • Forums I could use or start, to inspire more people to act with generosity, and to recognise it in others.

Fellow travellers

The very next day an opportunity arose to actively show kindness. I was standing on Platform 2 awaiting my train to the city. I saw a guy on Platform 1 opposite dragging a large suitcase, looking perplexed. He was glancing from the train tracks to our platform filled with people, to his platform with only him, to the train schedule board. I yelled out, “Do you want the train to Melbourne?” He replied eagerly, “Yes!” I told him he needed to quickly change platforms, as the train he wanted was due any minute.

I shared relevant knowledge with someone who lacked it at a time of pressing need, and avoided an upset. (He would have had to wait an hour for another train.)

A fellow passenger, another stranger, commented on my kind act. So I told her about my recent introduction to WKM, and thanked her for recognising what I did. We then parted ways as we caught our train.

That night, I ran into the same woman again on the train home. She said she had thought of me that day. She shared her own story of how she helped out a fellow traveller with timely information they needed.

My actions in the morning had resulted in a knowledge transfer on multiple levels, and led to two pleasant encounters in Melbourne that day.

Good business: generosity at work

As a Change Facilitator, I can see ample opportunities for empathy when dealing with people in the midst of organisational change. How great to discover a group that aims to spread the idea of compassion in the workplace – so often the arena for self-advancement and competitiveness.

In an organisation, kind actions provide a more conducive environment for us to create and share helpful knowledge. It’s like a ‘good virus’ that spreads the possibility of further altruism. I am more likely to be an agent for good if I am liked, and people like the way they feel in how I treat them.

Play the Kindness Card

kindness_card_frontpageWKM has created a great initiative to capture acts of kindness – the Kindness Card. Michael gave me a card (has the appearance of a credit card) which I’ve activated on the Kindness card website and will physically pass on next time I see and can acknowledge an act of kindness. And each time it’s passed on, a story can be posted to add to other stories on the website. How much better will the world be for sharing these heart-warming moments?

How exciting to take a simple, instinctive concept like kindness, integrate it into a professional domain like knowledge management, and see what positive effects can be had. My knowledge ‘engine’ is fuelled with a warm emotional energy that I hope in turn infuses the knowledge I create and pass on.

Kindness is ‘heart’ knowledge. And we tend to focus on head knowledge. It’s time to expand our focus more holistically.

Research indicates kindness is literally in our DNA. How’s that for original tacit knowledge?

Helen Palmer is Principal Consultant at RHX Group. She thinks critically about knowledge work and how to ensure knowledge isn’t wasted. She revels in tackling the big processes of change and learning, so that ideas become impact. With her colleagues at RHX Group, Helen helps teams make better use of their people, knowledge and information.

Image credits: ‘Reaching hand’ from Microsoft Online Clipart; ‘Kindness card’ from World Kindness Australia

Work is where you are

Where does work take place? In the office? At home? Maybe in a café, or on the train? More importantly, should we define work only as what we do at a desk?

Earlier this year the company Yahoo asked all work-from-home staff to return to working only at the office. They cited the collaboration, the interactions, and the experiences that are only possible when you’re in the building.

After reading Eileen Brown’s blog supporting the Yahoo decision I reflected on how and where work gets done. Putting aside a discussion about whether Yahoo’s decision will achieve what they want, I wondered about the assumptions made: ‘Work is (only) done in the workplace, i.e. office’; and ‘Work (only) gets done with a computer and internet connection’.

Many 21st century knowledge workers are not confined to the same four walls each day. And they aren’t necessarily freelancers or working for themselves. They have some choice as to where and when they work, and can make the most of different locations, timing and mobile devices.

A typical day on the move

shutterstock_127691597_crop

Recently, I kept a log of my activity on a fairly typical business day. I noted where I was, what I was doing and what devices I used:

8:25am: On train platform; reviewing calendar and sending text messages; with smartphone
8:40am: On train; reading articles/material in my notebook and making notes; with laptop (no wi-fi) & paper notebook
9:30am: On tram; musing and people-watching; with no IT
10:00am: Seminar for client; with laptop and paper notes
11:30am: At Café; processing emails and note-making; with laptop and WI-FI
1:30pm: At Library shared table with others; writing resources and reading articles; with laptop (no WI-FI)
3:30pm: At Co-working space with collaborator; writing proposal; with laptop and wi-fi
4:30pm: At Café bar; meeting with prospective client and taking notes; with paper notebook
6:00pm: On train; reflecting and note-making; with laptop (no WI-FI)

Different locations, different possibilities

I work as I move about. Each location brings different opportunities – and limitations. So I adapt to where I am, or go somewhere else. Some examples:

* I needed to type and send a timely email message to a client after a seminar I give, so I sought out a local venue with a suitable table surface and WI-FI connectivity.
* Internet access is tricky on the train or bus, but I can draft emails or write in my paper notebook. If I’m sitting, I read and annotate on my laptop – typically articles I have set aside just for such times.
* For deep thinking or creating content while in between appointments, I headed for a quiet spot with good seating and lighting at a local library.
* For taking a phone call I received when on the street, I sought out the foyer of nearby building to remove background street noise.
* To have a sense-making conversation with people I knew and felt safe to I toss around emerging (crazy?) thoughts, I headed to my co-working space and entrepreneurial community at Hub Melbourne.

Park benchNot mentioned on my list above is my car (in stationary mode, of course!); or a local park bench. I’ve been known to use these spaces too if they are the most convenient and the climate is acceptable. The likely context? When I’ve just finished up a meeting and I’ve got things on my mind I need to quickly capture – else they might distract me when driving the longer distance from the city to my country home.

I also get inspiration just being in the outside world. Walking or on public transport I see posters and flyers, observe activities and hear conversations, which get me wondering about what others care about and are paying attention to. This in turn shapes my emerging ideas and influences how I might approach an unrelated current situation.

There are things that might be better done if you are not sitting at a desk, not tied to a computer. Activities like reflection, cultivating relationships, taking mental and physical breaks and conceptualising new things (often done best with whiteboard or blank sheets of paper).

My mobility and the variety of place, time and activity also supports an ebb-and-flow approach to sustaining good energy for work. Mindful of the conditions that increase or reduce my energy, I make choices about where I need to be or where I need to leave.

Organisations making change about where people can work

There is a growing trend for organisations to provision and support a variety of work spaces both within and without the organisation. In these spaces lie the hopes of greater collaborative activity, innovative outcomes and happier engaged employees.

Some thoughts about how to get moving:
1. Start with a conversation about individual styles and preferences. Talk about the different contexts and how preferences might change in relation to context.
2. Discover some new possibilities to mentally or physically explore. Find stories or examples on web. Visit places that provide non-traditional experiences – local co-working spaces often have open day tours or try-for-a-day arrangements, i.e. Check out Hub Melbourne and what people are saying about such places.
3. Setup some temporary options to experience. Observe what happens; note what you liked or disliked, and how you felt energy-wise.
4. Use what you now know to make wise decisions in defining the practices and acquiring the resources to make effective change in where you work.

May you be productive and effective where-ever you find yourself working.

Helen Palmer is Principal Consultant at RHX Group. She thinks critically about knowledge work and how to ensure knowledge isn’t wasted. She revels in tackling the big processes of change and learning, so that ideas become impact. With her colleagues at RHX Group, Helen helps teams make better use of their people, knowledge and information.

Image credit (woman on train): Shutterstock

Using Notebooks to create and capture my knowledge

Notebooking enables me to be knowledge-savvy in my work. I am not alone in this vital practice.

Notebooking was a key part of the generative practices of knowledge masters Da Vinci, Edison and Picasso. In modern times, ‘Mythbuster’ Adam Savage is also a prolific notebook keeper. Unlike Da Vinci, Edison and Picasso, he uses digital notebooking. Adam acknowledges that the practice of putting his thoughts and ideas down in list form is pivotal to his work practice.

I write down things I know in digital notebooks because I want to remember them.  I want to revisit what I know, observed or reflected upon maybe months or years after I wrote these down. This is because I want to shape and play with my thoughts, to make sense of them or get a new angle on an idea.

Writing helps me to identify what I know and what I don’t know. Some of my knowledge is half-baked or incomplete and sometimes I write questions to trigger further thinking.

Ideas ordering – keeping the mind clear with notebooking

Writing down ideas is a way to create ordered patterns of what’s going on in mind.

Author Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi argues in his book Flow: Psychology of Optimal Experience that the process of writing creates meaning from the information we receive:

“It is never a waste to write for intrinsic reasons. First of all writing gives the mind a disciplined means of expression. It allows one to record events and experiences so they can be easily recalled, and relived in the future. It is a way to analyse and understand experiences, a self-communication that brings order to them.”

Some of what I know is tacit and writing helps to expose this and find deeper meaning. This is particularly true if I have an audience or function in mind, for example; to inform, educate, or persuade others.

My notebooks are for personal knowledge use. I use them for personal knowledge rather than shared knowledge because they:

  • Are a private and precious space – I’m not exposed as I muse
  • Include content in the Development phase rather than Production phase
  • Record what gets my attention
  • Hold my deep and emerging observations about work issues
  • Reveal connections I’m making with what I know and what I’m observing
  • Help cultivate knowledge within me

Into the digital space – keeping electronic notebooks

I’ve kept physical notebooks for over 30 years. A few years ago I went electronic and implemented MS OneNote to support my notebooking practice.

Image-Electronic Notebook page

I made the shift because I desired features that hardcopy notebooks couldn’t provide. These included:

  • Input via hand writing, typing or drawing
  • Multi-colour content
  • Text, graphics, audio, and printouts held altogether
  • Search by word
  • Ordered and tagged for meaning
  • Copied for preservation
  • Easy to edit cleanly (erase text, or move text about on page)

There have been many advantages and benefits emerge from having an electronic tool for my notebooking activity. These include:

  • Merging personal and professional – my poetry notebook sits alongside my business notebooks
  • Less mass and more volume – I can keep adding notebooks and notebook content without a gain in physical weight
  • Re-editing and adding layers of annotation – content isn’t fixed so I can change or annotate it, I can insert new things between old things
  • Greater connectivity of content – I can use hyperlink feature to make and retain connections between pages
  • Better order and organisation – I can set up an order and reorder it as necessary, so the order keeps up with my current thinking
  • Quick and easy discovery – I can search by words, even those that are handwritten rather than typed
  • Multiple copies in synch – I reduce the risk of loss because I can have a copy with me as well as in the home or office
  • Sharing with others – I can allow others access to read and contribute

Learn about how I setup my electronic notebook

In the book Innovate like Edison, author Michael Gleb defined ‘keeping a notebook’ as one of 25 competencies in developing an innovation practice like the prolific innovator, Thomas Edison. Edison kept approximately 2,500 notebooks some of which survive to this day.

And famous inventor’s notebooks can survive to appreciate in other ways: one of Da Vinci’s notebooks was sold for $40 million to Bill Gates.

I wonder if my notebooks will survive a long passage of time. Whether a future someone will ‘dust’ them off, discovering something noteworthy or inspirational which will generate new knowledge for them and the world. Do I dare to hope it is so?

Helen Palmer is Principal Consultant at RHX Group. She thinks critically about knowledge work, and how to ensure knowledge isn’t wasted. She revels in tackling the big processes of change and learning, so that ideas become impact. With her colleagues at RHX Group, Helen helps teams make better use of their people, knowledge and information.

Fourth dimension of networking – Making it happen (Part 3)

I have shared knowledge about the ‘What’ of my 4D networking practice. This post outlines the details of ‘How’ by answering the question: What enables a savvy 4D networker?

Below is a set of three lists: Practices I do, Tools I use, Mindsets I hold. I encourage you to reflect on these and prepare your own lists.

Practices

This is a list of things I do with my ‘Networking’ time.

  • Connect only with 3D or 4D contacts in visible online databases (i.e. LinkedIn)
  • 3D & 4D networking, based on my own 4D criteria
  • Act thoughtfully and purposefully
  • Ask individuals: How can I help you? What is your passion or interest?
  • Think proactively: How can I help this person? (Do 4D activities); Who can I connect this person with? (e.g. Utilise my trusted contacts)
  • Endorse or recommend people without prompting
  • Ask for assistance to meet new people
  • Treasure chestFollow-up after meetings to give something meaningful, show appreciation, or spread the word/tell others
  • Catalyse discussions (online or in person) with interesting questions
  • Being active participant in an Professional Association or Community of Practice
  • Schedule and honour regular networking time/activity
  • Use digital calendar to manage availability and issue shared calendar entries for meetings
  • Keep a record of my contacts and my engagement with them (contact details, personal details, my reflections on initial meeting with them, suggestions for how I can assist them or connect more meaningfully, email correspondence).
  • Keep current records so I can do summary reports/analysis about breadth & depth of my activity over time, e.g. who I saw, how many people I meet, number of contacts in my databases, and evaluate performance
  • Adapt: Review what’s working or not working and do something again or differently
  • Learn from others lessons-learnt, e.g. Mistakes not to make using LinkedIn.
  • Consider: What presence will I show up with when meeting with someone?
  • Implement 4C’s filter: give varying degrees of attention to interact with individuals or groups
  • Observe or imagine what others might value; scan/seek for items and opportunities to share with others
  • Write on back of business cards and noting person’s interests & preferences immediately after meeting someone. (This later gets transferred to digital records.)
  • Tagging/classifying people into meaningful groups for interaction – makes it easier to execute contact with collections of people.
  • Capture valuable information so I can act quickly to share something of value (see Notebook lists under Tools below)
  • Prepare or acquire micro-blog (i.e. Twitter, LinkedIn update) content I can publish quickly and constantly
  • Do regular micro-blogging to share and mobilise useful or inspiring knowledge

Tools

This is the set of tool I use that enables the practices listed above.

  • Contacts database (online = e.g. LinkedIn; offline = e.g. Outlook Contacts – I have both because approx 10% of my contacts are not LinkedIn members)
  • Tagging schema to organise contacts in my databases
  • Linking micro-blog posting across online platforms, i.e. LinkedIn feeds to Twitter feeds to Facebook
  • Sample text for replying to various message correspondence scenarios, e.g. LinkedIn member who I don’t know (i.e. not 3D or 4D contact) invites me to connect with them
  • Social media professional profiles with connections so others can learn about me and my network (e.g. LinkedIn – Basic is sufficient, Basic is free; Twitter; Facebook)
  • Bio copy prepared for various audiences
  • High quality professional colour digital photograph
  • Links in email signature of available methods to contact me
  • List of my interests, specialities and passions that I can share
  • Notebook entries of useful lists: Quotes, recommendations, insights, suggestions, humour, random acts of kindness to do
  • Notebook entries with potential & finalised micro-blog content I can publish
  • Artefacts/methods to send a surprising delightful message: Quality cards, or notepaper. I also use origami paper made into objects, and handwritten emails using inking on tablet laptop.

Mindsets

These ideas I hold to guide my networking and professional practice. They underpin the practices listed above.

  • It’s better to give than to receive.
  • Pay it forward.
  • For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.
  • Be prudent and purposeful with resources
  • Don’t enable the waste or potential of talent.
  • Its okay to say No. It’s okay to stop.
  • Its okay to ask.
  • Respect others time and energy.
  • Honour my own boundaries and limits.
  • Aim for effective not efficient activity.
  • Leave something better than you found it.
  • Its not what I do or say but how I make people feel.
  • Make the first approach, take the first step.
  • Show up.
  • Mean what I say, say what I mean.
  • Honour my word and commitments.

May you find meaningful ways to perform better in professional networking.
Please share with me your ways and means!

Helen Palmer is Principal Consultant at RHX GroupHelen likes to experiment and create conceptual frameworks to use in making sense of human activity. She thinks critically about knowledge work and how to ensure knowledge isn’t wasted. She revels in tackling the big processes of change, learning and knowing so that ideas become impact. With her colleagues at RHX Group, Helen helps teams make better use of their people, knowledge and information.

Image credit: iStockphoto