Enterprise social networks are the same as consumer social networks, it is about connecting people. Connecting people is the business value, you higher employees to work together to accomplish a series of goals. Social networking empowers better than any team, department or company meeting you can have in person or remotely. Business leaders make enterprise social networking a priority or it will make itself a priority in the form of employees conducting business outside of your corporate infrastructure on consumer technologies that are not secure [safety tip: threats and policies will not prevent this from happening].
Enterprise social network is fueled by the fundamental concept of getting a solid enterprise search solution in place! You may be saying to yourself search?! Yes, search! The basic principal of establishing enterprise search is it allows me to find people (and content) I might want to be connected to. I should have the ability to search for a topic or skillset and find the experts in the company for a given topic. Now I need a vechile (besides e-mail) for connecting to that person in the company which leads to the 2nd tenant for establishing social networking in the enterprise.
The 2nd pillar of social networking in the enterprise includes access to the company’s living org chart or directory. This has to be more than an Excel Spreadsheet, Visio or PowerPoint diagram. This needs to be something that I can navigate and is visually appealing while being connected to your HR or corporate directory. Now that we have found a few people with the information we want, I need to figure out the most approriate means of connecting with this person.
You may have notice I did not mention or prescribe any tools or technologies here (Wikis, Blogs, MicroBlogging, IM, Web Conferening, etc). These tools are easy, integrating your people with the content they produce and the assets you have in effort to realize the real benefit of social networking is where the work really takes place.