How to access the knowledge locked inside your organisation Most companies with more than a handful of people have a great deal of untapped knowledge that would be of great benefit to the organisation, such as key contacts in prospective clients, expertise from previous roles, etc. This knowledge could be of massive value to an organisation if it were somehow unlocked, yet few organisations make any effort to even try and unlock it, let alone making specific efforts to capture it through formal methods, or even encourage these behaviours. There are a variety of ways to do this including intranets, wikis, social events and brainstorming sessions, to name just a few. Yet possibly the most significant benefit is in simply getting staff to think and interact in a different way – it gives people a greater sense of belonging and of community and makes them feel valued! In other words, it’s great for morale!! A friend of mine, who organises seminars gets people into small groups, where each person spends a couple of minutes explaining who they are and what they do. At the end of the introductions, everyone sifts through the contacts on their phones and suggests people who might benefit from the products and services that each person has outlined. Imagine how powerful that sort of interaction could be if you have a company (or perhaps a division of a company) with 50 or more people and you could get your staff to suggest personal contacts that could turn into customers – how many companies (and individuals) even think like that.......? The only industry I can think of is financial services, where it’s not unusual to ask a happy customer to make introductions to their friends and family. Likewise, if your staff could help your customers to find new business, what would that do to transform the relationship you have with your customer? And what this would do for your company’s reputation in the marketplace, if they’re actively trying to help your customers find new business. Just imagine how much we could all do to transform the fortunes of those around us in these difficult times with a few moments of thought applied in the rights ways........ what recession........?! Perhaps most importantly, this can be applied from the shop floor to the board-room uniformly! Let me give you an example – a good client of mine, based in the Midlands, was a contact of at least two other friends of mine and yet the introduction that led to us working together came from a mutual contact based in America. It came about because I’d had a discussion with the American lady about a problem in her business and she then recommended me to this Midlands company. Our two UK-based mutual friends hadn’t even thought to make the connection....... and they’re both “active networkers”!! So what’s the moral? You never know where the business will come from when you start thinking differently!! What can you do today? 1. Make a list of the 10 companies you’d most like to do business with then share this target list with EVERYONE in the organisation. Get them to check their LinkedIn accounts and see who they know in the companies (1st degree connections) or friends of friends (2nd degree connections). Then contact these people and ask for introductions – start with closest/warmest contacts first. 2. Speak to your top customers and ask them who their Top 10 “wish-list” of customers is – repeat the stages in 1 above. Clearly, you need to be careful if you supply a highly competitive industry, but it’s worth a try!! Just imagine, if you could add 10% to your customer’s revenues/profits, then they have more to spend with you and they’re likely to be a heck of a lot more loyal as well!!