I’ve recently discovered the blog of Christopher C. Penn. He’s an excellent writer on many business topics – and an expert in email marketing and social media. Digging through his past blog posts – I found an interesting visualisation of Personal Networks and their interaction with employees and the company they work for. Christoper says:-

If we drew a Venn diagram (you remember these from school, yes? Logic class?) of the various personal networks and interests of your employees, you’d get something that looks like this:

That tiny little wedge in the middle is the intersection of personal and corporate networks. Companies that force their employees to rigorously keep personal and professional separate or even require employees not to participate in personal media creation outside of work create and get access to only that tiny little wedge in the middle, and nothing else.
Now imagine that a company, instead of discouraging or trivializing employees’ personal brands, encouraged them to actively grow their own networks, to use and leverage social media and new media to the best of their abilities.
What would that company’s reach be? Well, instead of the tiny intersection in the middle of those three networks in the chart above, the company’s effective reach would be the sum, the union of all the networks. Each employee’s personal network would contribute to the effective reach of the whole network.

Christopher’s point is made with a focus on social networking – but I think it makes a good case for companies giving resources/time/training to individuals in their organisation to develop their Personal Networks. This benefits the employee – and in turn the business. It would be interesting to have feedback from corporate readers as to where they “hold” their Personal Network contact information. I know when I ran a business – there was the sales CRM system that I as CEO never used … and my own repository of contacts held by me! This was in my own company….!

I’m increasingly becoming anti-groupware – and a big fan of “soloware.” Unfortunately, I’m not the inventor of the term Soloware – although there’s not been much work on the idea since it was muted in 2006 by Stowe Boyd and Matthew Glotzbach.

I like the ring of “The Individual is the new Group!” – courtesy of Stowe. Power to the person…!