Social Tagging – Are you an Expert?

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I do presentations on Social Networking which is – besides Social Collaboration – one of the two major building blocks of Social Business. One important Use Case within in Social Networking is “Finding Experts” which focuses on questions like

  • How you can expose yourself as an expert
  • How can the community raise the relevance of an expert and, of course
  • How to find an expert?

Finding experts often is crucial for our work. Especially if you are new to a specific department or even completely new to a company it is not easy to get hold of people that can support you in doing your work.

Who is an Expert?

Once in a while, especially during a training where real-life experts (like engineers, chemists, …) are in the audience, these social mechanisms are challenged for good reasons.

Questions are usually:

  • Can just anyone claim to be an Expert?
  • Even if he/she isn’t?
  • What if on one hand a ‘self made’ Expert is found, but on the other hand me and the (real) experts in my team of are not? (sometimes have to smile on this one …)

In the social context many terms have a slightly less formal definition as in Enterprise Collaboration / Knowledge Management. A Tag doesn’t necessarily match with the qualifications in your HR record. In the social meaning, being tagged as an Expert does not mean that you are the (only) “Source of Truth” in a specific domain. The presence of a Tag in a profile doesn’t necessarily mean: this is “a Domain I’m officially certified in”.

In fact, the term “Expert” does not appear in the user interface. The respective area is often simply labeled with “Tags”.

If I added the Tag “Rocket Science“  to my profile it actually wouldn’t mean much. I could mean

  • I (think I) am an expert in this topic, or
  • I work in an area where this takes place or
  • I’m just interested in Rockets

Perhaps I changed my work in the meantime and this tag only has a historical meaning.

The relevance of a Tag in a Profile increases as other colleagues of the social community give the same Tag multiple times, for example after someone

  • Helped someone else
  • Answered a question or
  • Shared relevant information.

The relevance indicaties I’m (likely) knowledgeable in this area. When a “critical mass” of Tags in a profile is available the main Tags that characterise me can be easily  separated from the less relevant ones.

Additionally, someone who found my profile searching a Tag search can also see:

  • Who gave me this Tag? Was it a supervisor? Was it a recognized expert? Was it someone whose judgement I trust in?
  • What other users have also this Tag, maybe even with a higher relevance?

Each person (including myself) can assign a Tag to my profile only once. That is why it is so important that uwers not only tag themselves, but also to tag their colleagues. They usually know what there are working on and what they are knowledgeable in.

If someone gives you an advise or support in the system, on the phone or personally, why not as a good practice immediately give her the appropriate Tag?

What to tag?

Besides areas of expertise you should also tag Projects, Responsibilities, Location, Country, Region, Department, … do not consider any kind of tag as too obvious (“Everbody knows that I work in Cape Canaveral”). If someone searches for an expert in “Rocket Science at “NASA” in “Cape Canaveral” they won’t find you if you don’t have all these tags in your profile (i.e. lacking the “Cape Canaveral”-Tag). Add Tags also to the profiles of the colleagues you are working with helping them to gain visibility in the area of their expertise.

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