David Spark is a veteran tech journalist and the founder of the media production and consulting firm Spark Media Solutions who blogs regularly at Spark Minute. He was reporting at the Enterprise 2.0 conference for Dice and Dice News.
On the first day of a new job, people would always say to me, “We won’t bother you, you’ll need time to get ‘oriented.'” What were they talking about? When I start a new job I have an empty inbox and literally nothing to do. I need no time to get “oriented.”
Usually these early days can be spent trying to find your way around. If your company is using some forms of internal or external social tools, you’ll want to take advantage of them from day one.
In an interview I did with Socialtext’s Ross Mayfield, he offered some great tips and advice for using social media tools in the workplace. He gave suggestions on how HR departments can orient new hires and how ambitious employees can use social tools to stand out.
- Get to know your co-workers before you work with them. Instead of reading that useless binder of “company policies,” why not search through the company wiki and see what employees are working on. Read the company blog. Maybe you can ID a project early that excites you. Or find a possible mentor. Ultimately, the best way to learn about your company is through its people.
- Look before you leap. A company’s social platform is a new soapbox to express your ideas. It’s also a great place to put your foot in your mouth. Be careful how you use it. Check to make sure your manager is comfortable with you working openly.
- Commenting in the work environment is different than on the public Internet. Comments on a public blog can be brash and very contentious. We feel OK with that because there are rarely repercussions and we may never see that person. Quite the opposite in an office environment. Your co-workers have different levels of sensitivities. Say something wrong and it could go down in your “permanent record.”