August 01, 2017

Social collaboration for internal and external networking in workplaces

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A new research study published in the Harvard Business Review talks about how ideas can be generated inside and outside the organization. Please find the link above. Most of the organizations allow employees to network outside the company walls for knowledge sharing and gain intelligence. Unfortunately, such exercises take up a lot of time from a senior employee’s day schedule. Networking externally is an art and requires lot of time to gain trust and credibility.

On the contrary, the senior employee's time and expertise is also required inside the organization for his inputs in meetings and other proceedings. There is opportunity cost lost when he or she is not able to balance the needs.

Need for balancing internal and external social collaboration

Further, the argument is that, such employees need to spend enough time inside the organization, the study and assess the innovation needs of the organization. This is far more important in the first place. They need to scan the internal environment before they venture out to meet their business partners and vendors.

Further, the argument is that, employees who spend time within the organizations are not devoid of ideas either. Valuable insight is gained only when they move out of their desks and meet colleagues of other business units, collaborate with them and have meaningful conversations. One cannot underestimate the need for effective internal conversations. One fails to recognize that good ideas are always across the desk.

The authors suggest social collaboration can occur for generating new ideas through internal and external social networking in workplaces. There needs to be a balance in how we approach the problems of opportunity cost lost when senior employees do not devote time internally within the organizations.

The authors point to some solutions as below.

1. Scan the internal environment:

Managers of employee teams need to assess their own organizational needs for innovation and its urgency. Not all the employees need to network externally. Only the employees who have the required skills can do that. The employees need to take up personal responsibility before they venture out for external social collaboration.

2. Conduct external networking meaningfully:

The employees need to understand that time is paramount. They need to strike a balance between internal and external opportunities and network accordingly. It is not necessary that they network externally all the time. They need to network for the sake of networking and take be responsible and accountable for their actions. The managers also need to understand that it is time taking to network externally.

3.Spread the learning within the organization:

Employees after they come from external networking need to spread the information and lessons learned to the rest of the organization. One good way to do this is through pairing an internally focused employee with an external networking employee. Together they present their findings to the rest of the organization. This way both will be able to learn from each other, which benefits the organization as well.


Internal and external networking for social collaboration among employees is mutually beneficial for both the organization as well as the individuals who are involved. As presented in the article, it is important for us to find the balance between them and realize the best of both worlds.

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Coffee mug conversations and listening – about social media, networks, collaboration and crowds.

Human beings are social animals. We have evolved to this date and time, because of our social nature. We love groups and we love to share.

I write about re-inventing ourselves and our work through Social media, Social networks, Work Collaboration, Innovation and lastly Work life balance.

I completed my Masters in IT for manufacture, WMG, University of Warwick. I graduated in the year 2004.

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