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By David Harder on October, 16, 2017

How Social Networking Can Drive Innovation

How many people assume the world’s most innovative companies invent most of their technology in house? Far more innovation is found by individuals going out into the world and finding breakthroughs which they bring back. Thomas Edison did not invent the lightbulb. He networked and found the incandescent bulb that had been invented years before. Quite simply, Edison applied new ideas and knowledge to the innovations that he found from the world around him. His networking skills not only made him wildly successful, his efforts led to Edison becoming a category leader.


Developing sophisticated networking skills in all talent is nothing short of transformative in creating stronger organizations and more effective careers. Platforms such as LinkedIn offer game-changing capacity in being able to reach the very people that bring us innovation, best practices, clients, mentors, strategic partners and much stronger careers. However, to attain this kind of effectiveness requires much more than a functional understanding of social networking platforms. The last thing that you want to do is to simply teach someone how to use the features of a social media platform and assume they will establish meaningful creativity with the medium. Personally, I find the single biggest problem with social networking is how most people communicate. They hit the button “connect” and the recipient gets a note, “I would like to add you to my connections.” What does that generate? Usually, some form of “what do they want?” Once we accept the invitation one of two things usually happens:


  • Nothing
  • We get a long junk marketing e-mail pushing a product or service that they don’t want and don’t need


This is the bias that many recipients have and basic social networking skills do nothing to get past that. Prior to launching a significant social media program at Inspired Work, we designed a high-touch business development methodology that builds targeted relationships with new connections. For over twenty years, most of our business came from referrals. This only makes sense as we have a highly involved graduate and client base filled with over 43,000 professionals. But, two years ago, social media edged past the referrals.


Developing strongly effective social media skills is transformative for most individuals and intact teams. Last year, I trained a human resources group in how to use our methods. At the opening, some were excited but most were coming from, “Why are we doing this?” By the end of the day, each individual realized how much it would build their careers and their team. The process was used to increase talent acquisition performance, cut costs and improve onboarding. The team has built a profoundly better relationship with the community by building bridges with other organizations, community resources and sources for business intelligence. Now, they are visible and far more highly informed.


Last year, I was having breakfast with several colleagues. One had been in charge of talent for USC and is now my writing partner and having quite an impact on our business. Another is the gentleman who leads all of our presentations skill programs and represents us in New York. We had two other clients at the table. Collectively, they have changed the success of our business and the quality of my life. Someone asked, “This is so nice. How did we meet each other? How did this happen?” I responded, “Social networking. We all met because of social networking.” I viewed this as an affirmation because the best form is business development is the one you do not remember. In essence, that is what we want to do, to give others such high-quality attention that they remember how good it felt to engage with us.


The single biggest reason for failure is isolation. Our greatest success comes out of building the kinds of communities that support our personal as well as organizational mission, vision, and purpose.


Many of us would think that it isn’t necessary to develop these skills in coders, engineers, human resources, finance and administrative talent. However, let’s take it a step beyond the pipelines of good that come from these skills. Virtually everyone who works is dealing with the challenges of rapid change. The ability to change represents a variety of skills. The most important skill within a landscape of change is the ability to connect.


Increase the capacity to connect and nothing will get in your way.


Perhaps it is time to rethink sending out another generic note.


Brought to you by David Harder, President – Inspired Work Services, Inc.

(C) Copyright, 2017, Inspired Work, Inc. – (All Rights Reserved)

If you would like to discuss your workplace or your career with David Harder, schedule fifteen-minutes here.