Going external with your intranet expertise to get internal recognition

With the daily parade of tasks to complete on the intranet or ESN it’s sometimes difficult for intranet teams to stand out and get their contribution and professionalism recognised within their company. This is particularly tricky when a platform is at the middle level of maturity and regarded as business as usual.

Unless you are locked into a process with incremental but significant improvements, in business-as-usual mode perhaps there are fewer opportunities to shine. This is especially hard in a backdrop where senior leaders regard what you do as operational.

Going external

One option is to try and draw some attention to the value the intranet team provides by speaking externally about what you have done internally. Of course this can be very rewarding, enjoyable and good for your career but the value of speaking to a group consisting mainly of peers (e.g. other intranet ESN or collaboration folk) is not often recognised by senior management.

Where senior management do see immediate value is where speaking about what you do externally:

  • Enhances the brand and reputation of the firm externally
  • Creates an opportunity to engage with clients and targets
  • Gives senior management a talking point or opportunity to talk with their peers
  • Enhances the personal reputation of leaders
  • Provides a revenue opportunity, for example through consulting

Limited opportunities or more than you think?

Options for talking externally in a way which will impress senior management might appear limited, but the lack of opportunities might just be down to the fact that its something that hasn’t ever been suggested. Clients and contacts, regardless of the sector you’re in, often want to hear a good digital transformation story and if you have something to share, share it.

If there isn’t an opportunity arising, there are options such as entering some awards.  This has certainly got some teams some internal recognition. There are a number of intranet-related awards around now  and as you may know I coordinate the Intranet Innovation Awards for James Robertson and Step Two Designs. Quite often winning companies issue a press release.

Meanwhile some organisations are also happy to talk about their digital journey. PwC are a good example. They have been happy to talk about their successful Jive implementation because it shows a progressive company culture (good for recruitment) and also strong connections across PwC’s global network of firms (important for servicing global clients). Sportswear giants Adidas have also detailed their intranet and learning environment in blogs posts on their corporate website.

Consulting opportunities?

Your internal ESN, intranet or digital workplace experience also has the potential to be part of an external consulting offering.

You probably have a head start if you work in a company which does consulting on a regular basis because they have the experience and framework to make it happen. For example I know one intranet manager who spends about 10 to 15% of their time on paid consulting for their company. Doing some consulting and getting revenues in means that the intranet team can potentially move from being a support function to something which has the ability to be client facing.

OK so some of the ideas above are not necessarily earth-shattering but it can certainly alter perception of your value among senior management. And if someone high up looks at you in a new light, then that can only be a good thing.

Chris says

It’s lonely in there, and everyone thinks that in other companies it is all roses. There are loads of opportunities to get out there are share what you are doing, to be helpful for others, to raise your profile or just for the thrill of presenting. But always remember that you are at risk of becoming someone else’s product in this big weird world. If you are cool with that quid pro quo, that’s fine, but be aware of it and say no if it puts you in a difficult position. And be brave enough to be honest about the reality of your work. I am always struck about the difference between the reality of what I see consulting and benchmarking, where life is hard, and the razzmatazz world of conferences and webcasts where everything is fine, dandy, kicks and giggles. That said, I wish I had done more of it when I was in house, as it would have really helped me when I wasn’t. As for consulting? No. You stay there. ;-) 10-15% on external projects? I don’t know any intranet managers that have 10 to 15 minutes!

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