Scott Gavin's post It’s more important than ever to identify subject matter experts in your company makes interesting reading. It chimes with thoughts I've been having recently about KIN and the wealth of expertise which is available within the Network. One of the things, I think, that KIN excels at is providing the opportunities for the individuals within the member organisations to connect, network and exchange ideas and expertise. However, I think we could do even more.
In his article, Scott says that subject matter experts are identified by "... a mix of self declaration, identification by others and by the real life information someone interacts with."
So where could KIN add more value?
Well the KIN facilitators already do quite a lot to help match members' needs with members who have some know how (identification by others).
Where I think we could do more is by facilitating more of the 'self declaration' and 'the real life information members interact with'.
A number of members are good attempting to answer questions on the KIN discussion forums (self declaration). And as I noted in my making connections post, "if we think we know someone who might be able to contribute, we will normally alert them to the posting"
Another provision for self-declaration is the Member Contacts List which allows for members to list their expertise and experience. However, I suspect that few members a) maintain/update the information in this list and b) use this list to identify who knows what. The problem is that these days there are so many places we maintain profiles, this is just one extra chore. People are much more likely to maintain and keep up to date profile information which has multiple uses and in which they have a real investment.
I would suggest, therefore, that members profiles on LinkedIn are much more likely to be up to date and relevant. David Gurteen noted recently that "LinkedIn is slowly moving away from being a static depository to store your CV and connect to close professional colleagues and is starting to become a more interactive and participatory place. And I am starting to use it myself more and more"
KIN has a group on LinkedIn specifically for KIN members. If you aren't already a member, you may well receive an invitation soon!
The limitations of the above are a) they list what people say they are interested / expert in - this is not always borne out in practice.
Information members interact with.
A better way of identifying what people are really interested in / knowledgable about is to see what they do and say. As KIN is by its very nature spread across a number of organisations, this can be tricky. The discussion forums are as good a starting point as any. Then there are members' Blogs. I've started a list of members' blogs and will add more as and when I become aware of them. And if anyone wants to contribute to this blog, they would be more than welcome.
Another possible way of identifying knowledge networks is by what people bookmark. Which is one of the reasons I have started (see this post) the KIN Diigo Group as an experiment to see if there is value to be gained here as well.
So what other ways are there that KIN should try to help its members?