For social media mavens, who already blog, tweet, Facebook, digg and use every other form of social media we can get our hands on, it’s hard for us to understand why our co-workers don’t rush at the opportunity to use social media every chance they can to connect with alumni, parents and students. In January, I began to realize that it wasn’t that my co-workers didn’t want to use social media, many of them were on Facebook and LinkedIn, they just needed a forum where they could learn how to better use the tools and discuss their approach. This is when I decided to hold the first Alumni House Web 2.0 Lunch.
I don’t claim to be the first person to hold a Web 2.0 Lunch. In fact, before I ever came to Worcester Academy, they were already holding Tech in 20, seminars in 20 minutes for teachers to learn how to use social media and other tech tools. That said, my approach was going to be different. The Alumni House Web 2.0 Lunches were going to be bi-weekly, half-hour sessions (they have since become 1 hour) where I would demo a social media tool and discuss methods and strategies for using it. While I would be facilitating the discussions, my hope was that this would create a forum where ideas could be shared and colleagues could collaborate and build on each other’s ideas.
For the first Web 2.0 Lunch, I thought we should discuss Google Docs. There was a need for our office to collaborate on documents both internally and externally and share calendars with a variety of people, something that our current system was making increasingly difficult. The key to these lunches is to share your best practices, what works for you and what makes your job easier. This is not about forcing change on your office; it’s about growing the collective knowledge.
The Google Docs discussion was a success. We have since created a Communications Calendar that the whole office can see, print and update. This prevents redundant efforts in mailings and in contacting constituents. One major success of this calendar is that everyone adds his or her own content. This was not about sharing a beneficial tool that everyone would look at, only to then email me the content to publish. It expanded everyone’s comfort with the tool, resulting in increased communication and therefore productivity. Other web 2.0 topics have included how to use privacy controls on Facebook, what is Twitter and how do you effectively tweet, the benefits of sharing event photos using Flickr, and how to use school website specific tools like WhippleHill Push Pages to engage our community.
Now you might be thinking that your office could benefit from you setting up some Web 2.0 Lunches. How do you get started? It’s simple; look for where the gaps are in your organization’s use of social media and technology. What are you using to connect with alumni, faculty, current and perspective students and parents that your colleagues aren’t aware of, or aren’t using to its fullest potential? Once you have identified a few topics, find a time and location that is convenient for the majority of your office and schedule your first half hour meeting (if you are done in a half hour, great, if not, you will leave them wanting more!). Finally, remember that you are facilitating the discussion. Come prepared to present the topic. I always use a laptop and a projector, as I think visuals are a must. Above all be prepared to listen. This is about the sharing of ideas and, if you are receptive, you will leave with a new perspective and some knowledge gained as well.