#WomenInTech meet Becky Benishek, MVP, Yammer Community Manager, Crisis Prevention Institute

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This is my interview with Becky Benishek based in the US for my collective blog Super #WomenInTech, a key theme at Microsoft Ignite #MSignite Orlando next week. The blog spotlights outstanding #Yammer #WomenInTech from around the world and how we Work Out Loud #WOL. I met Becky via Microsoft Yammer networks when I was made MVP Office Servers & Services in February this year. Looking forward to meeting Becky and many other MVPs, speakers, and delegates in person next week and attending sessions. I'm presenting GlaxoSmithKline's #GSK #Yammer story at #MSignite. Author: Lesley Crook Yammer adoption consultant, Perspicuity Microsoft Gold Partner UK 



Tell us a little bit about where you work and your role in the organization.

I am a Social Media & Community Manager in Wisconsin and have been at CPI since 2011. I manage all our external social media accounts, the Employee Network on Yammer, and two Yammer External Networks exclusively for our customers. What does all that really mean? For the external social media part, I build campaigns to generate audience awareness and leads with our followership on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, and YouTube, working with my awesome direct report, the Social Media Specialist.


For the Employee Network on Yammer, I keep the lights on! Each new employee sits with me for a quick tutorial on why we're using this space, what it means for our company culture, and how to turn off email notifications. I keep everyone apprised of new features that will make their Yammer time even more beneficial.


On the External Network side, I get people in, develop campaigns to drive adoption, and aim to keep the value high. I want our customers to join because they want to, not because we want them to. That means it has to make sense for them to allot time and attention to this space. I also do all the analytics behind the scenes, using tyGraph for Yammer and Meltwater for social media. This is my second year of being a Microsoft MVP for Office Servers and Services.


Part of your role includes driving adoption. How do you approach driving adoption among employees? How do you handle individuals that are especially resistant?

We're very person-centered here, prone to sending emails and coming over to each other's cubes to talk about the email we just sent. Even though our company is steadily growing, we still have a stand-up meeting every week where everyone in the office gets together for 15 minutes or so to share professional or personal news.


Yet Yammer works here, and it works well, because through careful nurturing and engagement of a successful community takes dedication, especially in the early days! We've made it a seamless part of our company culture. Yammer is a supplement, even an enhancement, but not a replacement. Everyone is free to use the communication tools that serve them best. I would say that our adoption success also depends on how we don't make people adopt it! Yammer is always there when you need it.


And that's the other side of the nurturing that community managers do: You can provide all the instructions and glossy UI around, but people still have to find a use for it in their daily lives. Sometimes you can find use cases for them. Sometimes you have to let them work it out for themselves. And they do.


This person-centered care extends to our customers. Their daily jobs can put them in risky situations. We're here to help minimize that risk and keep everybody safe, not just for that day, that hour, but helping to decrease dangerous incidents for good. The real point here is that our customers are busy people, and we strive to meet them where they want to meet us. You call up our support staff, and they'll pick up the phone at a two-ring maximum. We hold conferences and travel to your workplace to hold trainings. We've got snail mail, email, and still have a fax machine because some customers send in faxes. We're here to help!


Yet since 2014, we've also had Yammer, and those busy customers have adopted it beyond even our most hopeful projections. They use as a 24/7 professional learning network, asking each other for help with real-life scenarios, and sharing their expertise. Plus there's the lovely by-product of networking, where they get to know people who do what they do. The fact that our customers have adopted this tool is really awesome for all of us here.


What would you say is your most valuable skill? Why?

Inspiration + accountability! I love sparking with ideas. It's part of why I'm also an author (other parts include sheer bullheadedness and desperation). Even the most unsuspecting conversation, phrase, or off-hand word can generate an idea. The trick then is to do something about it. In the business world, that means looking at both the small bits and all the steps that make up the big piece and the overall picture at the same time. Sure, it will take this person only a couple of hours to deliver on this piece, but where does this notion fit into our department/company goals? Will the payoff justify the means? It's like working with social media. Yes, there are serendipitous moments where you hit the right time on the right platform and virality happens. The vast majority of the time, it's work. Work behind the scenes, calculated campaigns, targeted audiences. You have to have a plan.


You've written and spoken about the value of enterprise social. Can you share a bit about how you see social platforms enhancing productivity and processes?

I've been part of and managed other community platforms before Yammer, and I can tell you, Yammer really does work. I wouldn't stick with it myself if I didn't see it work every day.


We're a global company, so we've got not only employees but customers around the world, and this single platform really helps bring people together to solve problems and collaborate on ideas. You don't get that with email or over the phone. Even on a conference call or when emailing a bunch of people, the sheer potential isn't as possible as in an enterprise social network where you've got everything in front of your eyeballs at once, the latest version of any file is self-evident, late-comers can catch up on the conversation with ease, and you get unexpected input from people you wouldn't have thought of adding to your project because we all have our circles or groups, job titles and where we sit. It's pretty cool to see it happen live, too.


As Amy Dolzine, MVP and Ignite speaker said in her Friday Feature ... People learn together in enterprise social networks, formally and informally, and they start to see how we are all connected, how we can all benefit, and how we can all contribute.  Find a platform that works for you.


What advice would you give to someone just starting their career in IT?

Always remember your end user. Whether you're writing documentation or code, doing help desk or building servers, there's a person on the other side of that ticket who just wants to get on with their job the way you want to get on with yours. A little understanding goes very far.


So cultivate those soft skills: Communication, teamwork, adaptability, and don't forget keeping a calm head. If your workplace has Yammer, join it, even if you mostly only have time to be a lurker. A daily five-minute scan of the home feed can help you feel more connected to your internal customers. And do not worry if you do not yet have all the degrees you think you need or you are coming from a non-traditional-IT background. I'm an English/Environmental Science major!


Becky Benishek

Job Title: Social Media & Community Manager

Company Name: Crisis Prevention Institute (CPI)

MVP Profile: https://mvp.microsoft.com/en-us/PublicProfile/5001783?fullName=Becky%20%20Benishek

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/beckybenishek/

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/bbenishek

Amazon Author Page: http://amzn.to/2jGbGLF

Blog: https://thehouseofbeck.com

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