The progressive implementation of Web 2.0 technologies is ushering a new era for the world of business and work.

About time, I hear you say. For, as forward management thinkers like the celebrated author Gary Hamel have denounced, the majority of XXI century organizations still apply leadership and organizational models that were created almost a hundred years ago when the Taylorist factory was the paradigm of efficiency and control. Little surprise if the new ‘Generation Y‘ers and some older folk with ‘digital DNA’ joining the ranks find organizations anything but fun places to be at. Oppressive hierarchies, the restricted flow of information, Chinese walls and office politics all combine to make the workplace a dreaded daily grind as opposed to an open, information-sharing space in which to develop your skills and creativity with the support and encouragement of your bosses and peers.

Luckily the scenario I have just described (a scenario we see humorously depicted in every chapter of the TV show ‘The Office‘) is slowly but surely becoming a thing of the past. Collaborative Web 2.0 technologies – what Professor Andrew McAfee refers to as ‘emergent social software platforms’ or ESSPs – novel management and organizational philosophies based upon ‘The Wisdom of Crowds’ are revolutionizing the workplace. We are witnessing the emergence of Enterprise 2.0, a term coined by McAfee to account for the organizational use of social networks, blogs and Wikis modeled after Web 2.0 sites that is thoroughly transforming the way businesses operate both internally and externally and yielding encouraging results for the growing number of early adopters.

Contrary to what one might expect, Enterprise 2.0 effectiveness is not restricted to Silicon Valley technology start-ups, technology or Internet-based companies in general. Far from it. The building of the new wave of ‘social businesses’ and the manifold benefits deriving from the implementation of collaborative tools – the improvement and increase of communication and collaboration across the organization and the fostering of innovation and creativity being the most salient – is reaching mainstream organizations from all walks of life, as the recent example from the American Hospital Association (AHA) and their successful implementation of a Social Intranet and Collaboration Platform proves. Just as the Taylorist factory was the paradigm of the Industrial Era, the Social Enterprise is becoming the paradigm of our Post-Industrial Information Age. And this is good news for technophiles, the social media savvy and those intent on taking their Personal Branding seriously.

In fact, I would argue that those who follow a Personal Branding strategy à la Dan Schawbel’s ‘Me 2.0‘ have distinct advantages over the rest. Let me share five here:

  • They will be in a stronger position in recruiting processes for vacancies in businesses that put social sharing at their core. There can be little doubt that employers whose organizational paradigm is based on the Social Web will be looking for individuals well versed in the latest trends and tools and with proven skills (and even a critical mass of followers) in the social networks and the social media.
  • They will find themselves more at ease in a collaborative environment where – just as in the Social Web – hierarchies of merit spontaneously emerge based on competence and expertise.
  • In a social-sharing driven company, their earned personal brand will immediately make them more trustworthy and easier to relate to compared to those with little or no ‘digital footprint.’
  • It will be easier for them to break the traditional ‘them and us’ barriers across business unit silos.
  • Bringing in their learned skills in sharing ideas and solutions in real time in social networking or micro blogging will accelerate and improve organization-wide communication and often make them some of the most helpful colleagues.
  • Those who have successfully branded themselves in the social media and the Web 2.0 making their values the backbone of their online identity will be best placed to identify and target opportunities for company values to be accurately depicted and defended in the organization’s ‘social’ interactions with clients, partners and the community.

Finally, as we move from an era of mass workers and consumers into one of empowered team-workers and informed shoppers, personal branding is no longer an option for aspiring leaders. In the new Enterprise 2.0 world, leadership will no longer just be the ability to get others to follow us willingly, but also the ability to get others to be connected to us and to one another willingly. I invite you to get ready for this new promising horizon by actively engaging in your personal branding process and making the sharing of information and ideas the core of who you are.

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