By Melissa J. Anderson

Last week was Social Media Week, a global event taking place in New York, San Francisco, Rome, Paris, Toronto, Sao Paulo, London, Hong Kong, and Istanbul. All week long panels, workshops, and parties took place around social media throughout the world. At New York’s “How I Did It: Financial Services Social Media Champions Tell Their Stories,” panelists discussed how they persuaded their companies to incorporate social media into a strategic, community building function, and then how their projects were implemented. They gave key advice on the realities of incorporating social media in the corporate workplace.

Hosted by The BGK Group, and held at Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness, the panel was moderated by Joyce Sullivan, Financial Women’s Association Board Director and Co-Founder of its Communications & Digital Media Committee, and a VP at a global bank. The panel included Esmee, Vice President, Digital Media & Content Producer, J.P. Morgan Asset Management; Lori Feldman, Director, Branded & Social Media Marketing, Citi; John Stepper Managing Director, Deutsche Bank; and Alexandra Tyler Vice President, Branded & Social Media Marketing, Citi.

Each of the panelists successfully initiated social media use within their companies, but more practically, they were able to use social media to strengthen internal employee networks. And while each participant came from a unique background, and worked on very different projects, they were able to unite around some key pieces of advice. Here are three big tips you can leverage to build your own company’s internal employee social network.

1. Make Friends with Legal and Compliance

Not every industry is as heavily regulated when it comes to interpersonal communication as the financial services industry. But the panelists all pointed out that working with compliance and legal before jumping right into a new, potentially risky medium will make your life easier.

Esmee, who referred to herself as JP Morgan Asset Management’s “content factory” said, “I work in lockstep with compliance.” Esmee produces podcasts and other content for the company’s internal and external social media platforms. She also mentioned that all of her content is end client approved as well, even if it is a business-to-business product. The firm realized that in the age of forwarding, being able to pass on valuable information beyond its intended recipients is key. Make sure in advance that content is safe to travel outside the confines of your internal network.

And make sure compliance and legal know what you are up to in the first place – they need to have a seat at the table from the very beginning. Stepper recalled having to start from scratch with Deutsche Bank’s internal microblogging network, when his growing network was shut down as soon as compliance caught wind of it. Working with the rulemakers will make your company’s journey through social media much easier.

2. Demonstrate Your Project’s Strategic Value

Stepper also emphasized how important it is to explain the strategic value of the new social media platform to the firm. He said, “Do some field work, find a real problem, and help them solve it.”

Feldman agreed. She said, “Go in with a very serious strategic project plan. We took a serious project management approach. We made sure we were as serious as the people we were working with and they took us seriously.”

3. Be a Passionate Social Media Evangelist

Finally, the panelists all agreed that the most important factor in building a successful social media platform within an organization is maintaining your own energy and passion for the project. Tyler said she and her team lobbied across Citi’s global presence to drum up support for the project. She said, “We wanted to be evangelical about social media internally.”

Feldman agreed. “You have to be a passionate evangelist about the space. Sometimes it’s not easy to be innovative, but… if you believe and maintain your evangelism, you’ll likely succeed.”

Then, get ready to enthusiastically lead a huge initiative. Esmee said, “Connect it with strategy, and be willing to roll up your sleeves, and do the work.”