A friend from the United Kingdom writes to ask me how she might help her somewhat traditional trade association see the value of using a social networking application to facilitate communications between association members, and maybe also as a way to encourage new members to participate. Trade associations are a perfect type of organization to employ social networking tools to encourage conversations and build digital relationships. Here are some potential next steps.
In situations where people aren't exactly techies, keep the energy on the benefits of collaboration and cross-team communication. To that end, I recommend a simple but functional platform like Ning, or if it has to be managed inside the firewall, maybe something like JiveSoftware or Mzinga.
Starting with a big empty platform is scary. I recommend building out a few user accounts for some members, and maybe finding a few "friendlies" to build a profile and start messaging back and forth. It always feels easier to understand when you can see real-world examples of members using the system. Round up about a half-dozen people who might be more inclined to "get it," help them build an account, add a user pic, and so on, and then send a few messages back and forth. Then, when you display and/or demonstrate to the member base, they will see themselves in it.
Use a software like Jing ...