great aunty jean

Building an Office 365 influencer network with Great Aunty Jean

People who know me know that I’m particularly addicted to the influence model of adoption and change management. What this means is that, rather like getting business by referral, your company needs to identify it’s influencers and engage with them.

They will do the heavy lifting of creating a sustainable referral mechanism around the business as they share information, show off how they are working and generally tell everyone they know and anyone who cares to ask all about the latest app in Office 365 that has changed their lives.

It’s also very easy to think that even though you are managing the adoption of Office 365 that your role is simply that of the conductor to the orchestra, but you have a pivotal role to play as well. You too have influence and you have a network of people you know across the organisation that you are already influencing.

Your network is a unique mix of individuals who know, like and trust you. It won’t be the same as anyone else’s network as it’s made up of friends, colleagues, acquaintances and other business buddies. It’s this diversity which makes each network distinct from any other and we should celebrate that fact.

However, it is also worth remembering that not every network is born equal and some are more relevant to particular areas of our life than others. For example, past colleagues and business buddies are often those we associate with our business networking activities. But that doesn’t mean to say the other groups should be ignored.

Sometimes, a referral comes from the unlikeliest of sources. Great Aunty Jean’s nephew in New Zealand has an old school friend who has need of a service. Said nephew happens to be chatting on the phone to his great aunt and mentions the problem; she mentions you ….. You get the picture!

What you didn’t realise up until this point is that Great Aunty Jean is the family matriarch. She knows everyone and everything. In short she is the glue that holds the whole thing together.

Your network will have many ‘Great Aunty Jean’s’ in it. The trick is to identify them and then nurture the relationships so that you are the person they think about when someone they know asks them the inevitable question. It’s in this way that you influence your particular bit of the world around you.

But, how do you go about finding these network hubs? It’s not necessarily as hard as you might think and below you’ll find five simple ways to do a quick audit to identify the people you need to be spending time with.

  1. ‘Great Aunty Jean’ might be the person you have coffee with every Friday or someone you got to know when you first started at the company; it may even be your old boss – you know, the one before you got into this change management malarky!
  2. Write down the names of the people you would ask if you have a particular problem because you know they always have a solution or an idea of who could help;
  3. Next time you’re at a company event spot the people who have a crowd around them. Find out who they are and why the crowd likes them;
  4. Identify groups in your organisation who have lots of members or who are very specialised. It could be your disabled workers group, or the knit and natters, find out who the organisers are and get in touch, they are inevitably busy people who have a contact list as long as your arm and they may like the idea of something in Office 365 that makes life easier for them – be it Forms, OneDrive or even OneNote.
  5. Write down a list of the people you’ve worked with; your line manager, your colleagues, past project board members – you get the picture.

So what do you do when you’ve got your list? Have a chat, show them something you think might help them shave a few minutes every day and then ask if they’ll write a case study, come and talk at an event, show their team or perhaps add a blog post to the Delve profile. They will reach a group of people you don’t know, they’ll share the message for you and in the meantime they’ll get something that works for them!

What we often forget is that the change management side of adoption work doesn’t end when the ‘project’ ends. This is the area that the business will need to fund into the long-term because change happens on a regular basis in Office 365. This type of networking is what will make the job easier once everything moves to business as usual. You can grow these networks of influence over time and work with them to help you make it easier to get the knowledge out there that things are in motion – again!

Image courtesy:

Leave a Reply