How a social networking stickman can use IBM’s Lotus Connections to better server a community, or, enterprise – for free
In my previous post – My Five Ws of IBM’s Lotus Greenhouse in less than 10 minutes, I introduced you to Greenhouse and hopefully, got you underway in the registration process. So now, for all you would-be social networking stickmen out there, let’s see what free tools we can exploit.
For starters, once you log into Greenhouse, click on the IBM Lotus Connections link and you’ll brought to a typical portal looking page. The page should resemble familiar sites like Yahoo! with the added usability of customizing your page like iGoogle.
Here’s what you should be seeing:
- Profiles: The Facebook of Connections where you maintain your own profile, network with others and link with colleagues and their content. Take a few extra minutes and check out Chris Brogan‘s advice in Write Your LinkedIn Profile for Your Future. My personal favorites are about describing more about what you want to do most and your choice of photos.
- Blogs: Personal journals sequenced by most current entries that potentially allow readers to leave comments.
- Communities: Your own collection of member profiles sharing discussion forums, bookmarks and feeds, as described in My Five Ws of RSS in less than 10 minutes (video included)
- Activities: A novel alternative to email where you can share content, documents and comments around a specific activity, including To-Do’s with dates.
- Dogear: You can share, or, not, your choice bookmarks – just like Delicious, or, Digg, but integrated with your community.
Now keep in mind where you are at this point. You logged into Greenhouse and as a result anything you do inside Greenhouse will not show up when you Google for it. Perhaps more importantly, all the Greenhouse feeds available to you are pretty much restricted to internal Greenhouse use. The problem is typical news readers – like Google Reader do not account for credentials – no pun intended. Go ahead and try adding one of your Greenhouse feeds to Google
and please let me know if you have better results than I do.
Don’t get me wrong. This is not a showstopper and should not prevent you from moving forward now. As a matter of fact, anyone wanting to adopt social software in the workplace will have the same issue. This is a good thing. Enterprises and Information Technology (IT) folks call this Security and once you’re logged into Greenhouse your entries are encrypted with something called Secure Sockets Layers (SSL), which means, among other things, unintended eyes cannot see what you post. Notice the “s” in https://greenhouse.lotus.com?
Perhaps the most compelling reason for me to use Greenhouse Connections is the concept of community which I hope is communicated in my following video.
Now in order to have a Community, you need to have Members. You can only select Members from existing Greenhouse Profiles. Once you have your list of folks who can access your content, you can then determine what privileges they have. privileges depend on the Memberships Roles you assign and vary among Owners, Authors and Readers.
So how do we work around the problem of getting the most out of feeds if we can’t add those from Greenhouse to our readers? Here’ one I’m experimenting with a start-up project. Since all the members are into, or, are getting into Twitter, I set up a FriendFeed account and created a private Room for the members to communicate. We keep all our community-related content inside our members-only Greenhouse Connections Community and only use FriendFeed for notification purposes. It’s going OK, but I thinking of switching over to GroupTweet because its simpler. Sometime less features is just better.
Please let me know if you have any trouble following my instructions, hit a snafu along the way, or, simply have any of your own suggestions / alternatives. Especially if you have alternatives 🙂