Sharing Knowledge with Your Network

... and those you want to join your network. My elder niece came home from pre-school one day talking very seriously about making "good choices."  Apparently a little boy in her class had not been making good choices and was sent to a different room. Making good choices becomes more difficult the more choices you have.  I'm struggling with making good choices about my own knowledge sharing. 

I generally share my knowledge via (in order of formality and timeliness): Twitter, Business Exchange, this blog, class, and my academic publishing (pdf of my vita).  Each of these channels ties me to a different network.  The networks overlap to a small degree. Below I present five dimensions to help my clients (and me) make good choices about sharing knowledge with their networks. 

This is another topic related to how we all are becoming systems designers -- we all need to make good choices about how we share our knowledge so that we get the knowledge to the people who need it, when they need it, in a form they can use, and in a way that doesn't overburden them. 

These are decisions based on technology, organizational practice, and people: part of TOP Management. Formality and timeliness are two dimensions I've already mentioned.  For example, I don't tend to post to Twitter about past research unless some new and hopefully interesting thought strikes me.  On the other hand, I don't necessarily expect academic readers to be interested in this week's current event given that the article won't be out for over a year.  To do otherwise would be to ignore my audience's perspective. Content interest is another dimension to consider as you share your knowledge.  I assume that my networks are interested in gaining benefit from managing technology and organizational practice, and innovation more broadly, or they wouldn't be following me on my Twitter/Business Exchange/blog/class/academic networks. 

That said, I do toss in a sailing or golf reference from time to time because it provides context about who I am.  I like knowing a few details about my own knowledge providers gives me background for interpreting their content.  It also gives us more of a social connection if we have the chance to meet face to face.  Kind of like the beer effect without the beer. I'm told :) that detail and depth are issues I should consider as I share knowledge.  References (e.g., Barley, 1986; Weick 1979), as part of the sentence are not as interesting to most people as they are to academics.  (Really, they are interesting to us!) 

Each of my channels provides the opportunity for more and less detail and depth -- either by technological limitation (e.g., Twitter and 140 characters), human preference (e.g., my blog audience's interest), or organizational requirement (e.g., the APA Style Manual). Signaling is my final dimension, so far.  Signaling is how you let your networks know that there has been a new contribution.  Some of the technologies have their own signaling capabilities.  A few examples:

  • Twitter: Network members can decide whether they want email or SMS notification of new posts from specific network members.
  • Business Exchange: Network members can follow specific topics or specific people.  Business Exchange then summarizes new activity on the user's homepage.
  • Blogs: Network members can opt in to to automatically receive new contributions via RSS reader or email.

Ideally, some contributions on one network will be of interest to members of other networks.  Often I post announcements of new blog posts to Twitter, my LinkedIn account (the short message area on the bottom left), and my Facebook account. I give enough information so the people on that network will know if it's worth it to click through or not.  My blog is also tied to LinkedIn's Blog Link and NetworkedBlogs on Facebook.  As long as these networks have limited joint membership, this crossover signaling is ok. The more interconnected your networks become, the more careful you have to be about duplication. 

Duplication is akin to spam. We all have multiple opportunities to provide original knowledge contributions (a blog post, and comment to a blog) and/or to share valuable links. I've provided these dimensions:

  • Formality
  • Timeliness
  • Content
  • Detail/depth
  • Signaling

Do you have other dimensions that will help us all make good choices?