The conversation manager’s diaries: Week 1+2 (june 2011)

Home The conversation manager’s diaries: Week 1+2 (june 2011)

There you are, with a fine new laptop running with everything installed and set up. Your inbox is already filled with a lot of company news and discussions between colleagues you didn’t even met, yet. In the first hours you were in the building that is now your new working environment, you’ve met over 80 people, heard their names and tried to remember them. You had meetings with HR, with IT, with finance. And then… you jump into your seat, at your desk that is clean and empty. Remember: you’re a conversation manager now.

Time to learn
“So… you’re the Dutch guy that’s going to do a lot of twittering for us, right?†Not every employee here at InSites is fully aware of the responsibilities that come along with my job description. Although…. Yes. Some of my work consists of actively being present on Twitter, monitoring, listening and tweeting. But there’s so much more, so much more.

This first two weeks I took the opportunity to make a few plans, put some ideas on e-mail and made a draft for the blogging program here at InSites. But mostly, I learned about the organization. There’s a lot of colleagues doing wonderful stuff that is more than 100 percent conversation worthy. And most of the times… I wasn’t even aware of the fact what they do. It takes time. Time to learn about the company, it’s culture, it’s mission, it’s values, it’s people. And more and more I think, that understanding all this very well, is a not to be underestimated, no, a very important foundation for the successful implementing of a Conversation Management strategy for a company like InSites Consulting.

“So….. any conversations managed, today, mister Conversation Manager?†Of course, I laugh about these types of comments. I try to have a funny remark ready and say: I’ll keep you posted, did some tweeting. Wait and see. Working on it. The pieces of the puzzle will fall into each other very shortly, successes will be there in the near future and #worlddomination is still a very, very realistic goal within reach. But there’s a lot of work to be done.

By getting to know my colleagues, by drinking coffee, having lunch, walking to the lunchroom together or by carpooling, my understanding of the job to be done (my mission if I may say so) becomes more and more clear. Sure, we have our famous book, written by the great Steven van Belleghem: it rocks. But a book isn’t a job. And being a conversation manager you cannot and must not avoid the human touch.

Internal consultant
So, I’m finding my way around. And in the numerous meetings I’ve had now, one of the conversation manager’s roles becomes already cristalclear for me: that of the internal consultant. A lot of people ask me questions on a whole variety of topics, I try to answer, help, solve problems and I’ve found out that most of the times it works. I like it.

The Double
One of the very fun and exciting milestones for the company and that way also for me, was the winning of the MOAwards, InSites Consulting took “The Double†(see what the jury had to say) and there’s a lot of pride here, especially for the people in our Dutch office. Together with Anke and others, we made, on forehand, a strategic scenario for if we would win or lose, with quotes, press release, Facebook stories and tweets. That felt already very strategic, although it surely is just a normal way to go if you’re in pr-business. 😉 The moment we won, Anke “pushed the buttons†in Belgium, while I was in Zandvoort at the award ceremony, celebrating. “This is a true conversation starter, isn’t it, Matthijs,†one of my Dutch colleagues remarked while sipping champaign. He was so right….

Last thursdat, one of the research analists here at InSites (Sophie) gave me a wonderful look around in the world of netnography and etnography (see this whitepaper, pdf). These online observations techniques deliver such great research to base stories on, that I couldn’t wait to write about it or set up a content calendar to get the most beautiful stories out in the open to spread the word about the research done. No, that won’t be bragging about how good we are. It will be fun, and writing about it will surely help to make research a sexy business (again), Sophie concluded.

Almost there
So, here’s where I’m at. I listened, set up some strategic plans, made some draft presentations, got a feeling of the way things go around here, read several research papers and learned a lot about research communities during the community smartee I attended thursday. I managed some conversations already, got some nice feedback and also felt the urgence and need to make, soonish, a strategic plan and roadmap, also to define KPI’s and manage expectations.

Beneath you’ll find a schematic positioning (internally) for the conversation manager as the “spider in the web†of an organization, the facilitator in all organizational levels, the glue that is supportive, being easy to talk to and communicate with. I’m almost there 😉

This is the first blogpost in what I hope becomes a roadmap or guide to the implementation and birth of a strategically organized company with a listening culture. Stay tuned. Comments, questions, remarks, criticism: we LIKE.