We kicked off an interesting initiative at Network Communications, Inc. a couple of weeks ago and I wanted to share a little bit about it with you.

Our company serves three major industries: real estate, multi-family housing and remodeling. We are local, with representatives in more than 500 markets around the country, and we are multi-platform, with printed magazines and branded web services that serve the information needs of people looking to buy, rent or improve their home.

We thrive on connections, between each other and the people that we do business with. It sounds like a cliche, but the best people in my company are living their job. They are a deeply embedded part of a local community and they provide a service that, at its most effective, helps people grow their business and thrive.

It struck me early this year that we could do a simple thing to enhance and improve our connectedness: Embrace social media.So thats what were doing. Weve embarked on an initiative called Project Massive Network. We are encouraging everyone in the company to get involved in social media. Were offering training to everyone so that they can feel comfortable using the tools. And were implementing a new approach to marketing that will help us get into more and broader conversations with our marketplace about what works, whats going on, how they feel and anything else that sparks their interest.

To give us some focus in this effort, weve set a specific goal for the 1000 or so people closely associated with the company. 100,000 connections among all of our own personal networks. A large, dynamic collection of connected networks, merging the way that we live with the way we make a living, creating more conversation, more transparency and more engagement.Were two weeks into the program and were at 40,000 connections. Thats pretty cool.
We started our training program this week. Were working with Pat Kitano and Kevin Boer of Domus Consulting. This is a four-week hands-on course that teaches the nuts and bolts of using services like Facebook and Twitter. Weve invited all our clients and prospects to join us for the training nobody should be operating in business today without an understanding of how social media networks work and how they can be used. We have more than 1500 people signed up for the training already. (If you are interested in participating, click on this link and join in.)
Were experiencing an incredible amount of activity and engagement with our teams. They are setting up fan pages, creating Twitter accounts, building their connections. Were distributing all kinds of information and getting all kinds of feedback from our customers and prospects. Were connecting with each other. Its fun, its fluid and its constant. All I can say is, It is very cool.
A few personal observations:

Im getting to connect and interact in a more dynamic and personal way with different people around our company than Ive ever been able to before. I am enjoying it a lot.

The energy and enthusiasm that it has ignited is galvanizing.

Were engaging with our clients on their terms. Its healthy.

When we set off on this initiative, I didnt really know what to expect. I didnt see any big downside, and I was excited about exposing people to a new set of skills that would have value to them as they move forward in their life. Now, I can begin to see ways that our entire culture can shift. Well continue to explore them and Ill continue to report back on them.

For now, look out for us on the Social Web. You can friend me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter or interact with me on a bunch of different platforms: just click on the Connect with Me link in the right column of this page.

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