On Friday, I received an invite from Eileen Burmeister (Ragan Report writer extraordinaire) to join MyRagan.com — a “facebook for the PR and Communications industry” started by the genius folks at Ragan. If you have tried any of the social networking sites like Friendster, MySpace or even the professional networking site, Linkedin, you will find MyRagan easy to use. What I like about it is that it provides a place for communicators to go to find other communicators and share great ideas, ask for advice/help or get a restaurant recommendation while attending a conference in a different city. Polish restaurant in Chicago, anyone?

What I also like, though, is that it reinforces what I have been thinking lately. Large corporations are like small countries — often their sales eclipse the GDPs of small countries, but that’s another story. Inside these small countries are many different provinces (locations around the world, departments, business units) — there are so many different ways to slice large corporate structures, they are a pain to navigate. In doing focus groups with my former company, the number one expressed communication need was, “How do I find the right person to direct an issue to?” Many employees thought organization charts were the answer, but it was not company policy to post organization charts on the intranet and so we settled on a “beefed-up” searchable employee database, which only partly addressed the problem.

Which gets me back to social networking. Many large companies have offices in over 30 countries and employees who are team members on projects working across multiple time zones and regions. Many of these people will never meet each other in person, but they are expected to work with each other to success on these cross-ocean and cross-continent projects. I think social networking could be the answer to creating close, effective employee communities around topics that help people problem-solve inside these large organizations.

If MyRagan can do it for dispersed communicators in many different companies, why can’t companies do this for their 10, 20, 30, 100 thousand plus employee populations? If the next generation of employees are the “me” generation — why not embrace this mindset and give them tools that start with “My” and help them own solutions to business issues? Maybe this is the way to employee engagement in the 21st century?

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