Social Software

IBM Lotus Greenhouse Connections, Stickmen and Communities

How a social networking stickman can use IBM’s Lotus Connections to better server a community, or, enterprise – for free

Social Networking Stickman
Social Networking Stickman

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.

Getting Into Connections


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:

  1. 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.
  2. Blogs: Personal journals sequenced by most current entries that potentially allow readers to leave comments.
  3. 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)
  4. Activities: A novel alternative to email where you can share content, documents and comments around a specific activity, including To-Do’s with dates.
  5. 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

Google Reader and a Greenhouse Feed
Google Reader and a Greenhouse Feed

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

Why / How

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 🙂

Startup Life

Starting My Own, Thanks to …

Social Networking Stickman

Starting my own, thanks to Mitch Joel, Chris Brogan, Seth Godin and Guy Kawasaki.

Why I got started
I only started taking social software seriously after reading Seven Blogs You Must Read And Other Useful Know-How – By Mitch Joel at Twist Image in the Montreal Gazette. For the most part, I’ve been following Mitch Joel‘s advice and listening to him, Chris Brogan, Seth Godin, Guy Kawasaki’s How to Change the World and try to keep up with ReadWriteWeb, MobileCrunch and TechCrunch every now & then.

To be quite honest, I never felt a burning desire to spend much time with Facebook and just couldn’t relate to telling the wold that I’m going to have a coffee with Twitter. Now I know that sounds rather anti-social but I really felt there had to be more to it. But then among all of the feeds above, I came across ESME: Is This What an Enterprise Twitter Could Look Like? – ReadWriteWeb and things started to gel for me.

But enterprises come in many forms and I’d like to focus more on enterprising communities – those that are looking for new ways to tackle age-old problems. Those that are anxious to learn as they go along and maybe even contribute to the learning process.

One more Why
Here’s a comment I posted to Start A Blog Today | Six Pixels of Separation – Marketing and Communications Blog and Podcast – By Mitch Joel at Twist Image that explains why I finally got off the sidelines:

Actually, I only “got” social media after reading your post. Just recently, I started blogging myself, also, mainly due to you,, and I most definitely agree with you & the others, that – given the challenges of today’s realities, now is absolutely the best time to show your snowflake. With so many people being batched together in layoffs, people need a way to distinguish themselves.

The light bulb went off for me when I was about to offer the father of my daughter’s best friend an afternoon How-To do it. Fortunately, I realized the arrogance of my offer & held back. I was about to waste 4 hours of his time, my time, completely frustrate both of us and in the end set us both further back from where we started.

That’s why I started blogging. I realized that so many people I know – personally & professionally, have no idea of the social software tools not only available to them, but more importantly, just how beneficial they can be. So instead of inefficiently offering my help one person at at time, I hope to learn & refine the experience in my blog, grow my own social network and help others seed their own.

Here’s my lightning rod
According to Rubicons’ October 2008 report entitled “Online Communities and Their Impact on Business: Ignore at Your Peril”, there’s pretty much two kinds of community members: the most frequent contributors (MFCs) and the ones that read their contributions. By the way, the MFCs represent only 10% of the members but they contribute 80% of the content. If this is true then this is what I’m aiming for:

  1. If we can get just a handful of members, then I’m hoping that 90% of our new community will follow the adventures.
  2. Hopefully a percentage of that 90% will even try to implement their own community
  3. 10% will either let me know of:
    1. mistakes I’ve made, and/or
    2. problems encountered using my choice of software, and/or
    3. let me know how the competition deals with a scenario – whether it be better, or not

So bring it on. Let’s all learn together. Let’s share our experiences with not just this community here, but with any children communities born here, as well as, the developers who write our social software.

Up Next
Over the next few postings, I’m going to explain my niche market, a simple scenario for us to implement and a high-level outline of to-do’s which will ultimately become our How-To’s. You may agree, or, disagree with what I think is niche & whether my scenario has any practical use. But that’s the beauty of this social networking thing – provided you post your comments back.

My Process
There’s nothing truly original here. I’ve seen others do it. So unless anyone has any other suggestions this is how I’ll proceed:

  1. Send a tweet through Twitter letting anyone who’ll listen know what I’m planning on posting next & ask for any insights.
  2. Post my entry, with the first line being the entry’s tweet. If I can’t net out my posting in 140 characters and you can’t “Get it”, then I failed & you shouldn’t bother reading any further.
  3. Tweet that first line and see if anyone “gets it”.

All thoughts are welcome