Have you ever wondered where the saying “Eating your own dog food” came from? According to Wikipedia it originated from an Alpo Dog Food television ad (circa 1970’s) where Lorne Green professed to feed his own dogs Alpo. Even better, in 1988 the president of Kal Kan Pet Food was known to eat a can of their dog food at shareholder meetings! Now that is what I call commitment! Simply put, eating your own dog food is “…when a company uses its own product to demonstrate the quality and capabilities of the product.” At Cisco, our version of eating our own dog food is called Cisco on Cisco.

My job is to lead IT Collaboration projects and consulting engagements that drive the adoption and usage of Cisco’s social enterprise software platform WebEx Social. For this reason I thought it was appropriate to call my new blog series Collaboration is Good Dog Food. Get ready for a hearty helping of Collaboration sprinkled with a little WebEx Social.

In this blog, I will share some ways I use our enterprise collaboration platform i.e. WebEx Social to build and grow my personal brand and highlight some benefits of the Profile capability. These tools and practices have been successful for me and I would encourage you to try them too!

Personal Brand

I have developed my personal brand by sharing my passion, experience and knowledge of collaboration and communication by using many of the social features available on WebEx Social.

1) I subscribe to and participate in several WebEx Social discussion forums that match my subject matter expertise. Let’s face it, it feels good to help people. And to me my experience is wasted if I can’t share it or use it to help others.

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2) I help fellow employees solve problems using WebEx Social. There have been several occasions where someone is typing meeting notes into an email and I’ll say “Did you know there is a better way to capture and share meeting minutes using a WebEx Social Post and the Meeting Notes template?”

3) I tweet and blog about my experiences. Even if you are hesitant to call yourself an expert, you shouldn’t be afraid to share your unique experiences and perspective with others.

4) I use Expertise Tags in my WebEx Social Profile to make it easy for people I have things in common with to find me. Or more importantly, people I may not know who may need help in an area that I am knowledgeable about and vice versa.

For example, any end user can create an Ask a Question Post in WebEx Social and when they type in specific tags it will automatically find and suggest experts who have the same tags in their Profile. This is a really effective crowd sourcing and problem-solving tool. I recently used this method when I was interested in gathering personal productivity use cases for WebEx Social and wanted information and experiences from a different, unfamiliar pool of resources, i.e. people I didn’t know.

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5) I evangelize and promote my subject matter expertise (collaboration, project management, web design, customer advocacy, etc.) and passion for collaboration every chance I get. The key here is – DON’T BE SHY. For example I started a simple campaign internally at Cisco called “I LOVE WebEx Social” by creating a WebEx Social Post that I shared on my personal blog (Profile) and it spread like wildfire. I had no idea how many people felt the same way I did. It was a great feeling. From that simple act, other related campaigns popped up like a WebEx Social badge contest where the graphically inclined could show off their skills and pride in the product.

My Profile

The WebEx Social Profile is not just a corporate directory with a name, picture and location, but a powerful tool to help you communicate and build your personal brand and corporate persona. I think of it as my Cisco resume, internal Facebook page and LinkedIn all in ONE. It’s chock full of useful features like Alternate Contacts so when I’m out of the office my stakeholders or colleagues know who to reach in my absence.

Expertise tags and personal interest tags make searching for experts and crowdsourcing a piece of cake. I’m also able to follow other users and see who is following me. Featured content like my personal blogs, biography and activity stream give viewers a sense of who I am, what I’ve been working on and what my thoughts are on certain subject.

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There is also the usual core information like how to contact me, my title, organization, reporting structure, and Unified Communication features such as click to meet/contact/chat. Since its public anyone inside the company’s firewall can visit my Profile by simply clicking on my name. I have also added applications that display recent awards, recognitions, and customer presentations I’ve done and events I’ve attended.

As mentioned earlier, at Cisco eating our own dog food (in this case our WebEx Social product) is a critical part of our business and an important way Cisco IT can share our “hands-on” experiences with our customers. If you are interested in learning more about WebEx Social or how Cisco IT uses its own technologies internally, check out these case studies.

Thanks for listening. Shannon