When was the last time you walked around your office and conducted an informal survey with your staff? Not about what frustrates them the most about their job, what makes them excited about showing up everyday, or what specific problem or challenge they were trying to solve (all viable questions, by the way) but instead asking which social networking sites they are using most often, i.e. LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Slideshare, etc.; if they had read any customer reviews of your products or services online, or if they had learned something insightful about your current or prospective markets in a blog?

Next, survey a sampling of your most recent customers about how they prefer to be engaged. Ask them about their perception of the marketing and sales signals you or your team is sending out and which ones are being received. Ask how they research products or services to buy and how they perceive the information they get exposed to from other users of your products or services (as compared to your marketing value-proposition). You may be surprised by the insights they’ll share on the business impact you may be ignoring.

Why not ask your managers, directors or business unit leaders about the social networking strategy they intend to implement to capitalize on this current trend? If you get “uhmmm,” or “we need a LinkedIn group page, a Facebook fan page, or a corporate Twitter account” call us to talk about Enterprise Social Networking!

Social networking applications like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter are a delivery vehicle! The destination is reshaping your industry and your business – your ability to remain relevant will entirely depend on whether you still see social networking as something for your teenage kids or a game changer for you and your team’s success in 2010 and beyond. You see, social networking platforms are enabling a more real-time, peer-centric, buyer behavior. Search engines are becoming social search and social CRM – a fundamental disruption in your perceived value creation.

Value creation is derived from value disruption; if you don’t disrupt your value chain, someone else will!

By the way, are you still in that corporate crowd suffering from the fallacy of control? In the past week, I actually heard two executives proudly mention that access to Facebook and Twitter was blocked from their corporate office. Guess what? Your employees are bringing in their own laptops or 3G cards and accessing those sites anyway! Otherwise, they’re using those sites from their iPhones and certainly when they get home!

Social networking is also bringing corporate transparency to a whole new level. You have to define succinct guidelines very differently when an incident within your corporate walls can reach the world via Twitter in a matter of a couple of hours! You have to protect your brand, confidential info, and intellectual property very differently. If you don’t have an answer, “dig that hole before you need it!”

Many of the traditional communication methods are endangered species. The velocity and veracity of news traveling on social networking sites mandates that you get more hands-on and consistent in your interactions with your distribution channel and end customers. As a matter of fact – forget your products and services and start investing more time, effort and resources on the overarching customer experience. Delegating your customer interactions to “the mailroom” while you comfortably command and control from “mahogany row” is a receipt for crisis in the making.

Social networking is a disruptive technology and Web 2.0 will fundamentally and forever shift your business to a more customer-centric model. Bring the power and promise of social networking as a platform for mass collaboration within your enterprise, and you will accelerate profitable growth, top talent acquisition, and strategy execution.

At a minimum, if you’re not having conversations with your team (and your board) about social network-driven market disruptions, reinventing your business or revenue models, channel disintermediation, customer acquisition and retention costs, and strategic alliances to enter new markets or segments (powered by social networks), you better believe your competitors are!

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