Libraries, the universe and everything

Thing 6 – Online networks
July 20, 2011, 10:54
Filed under: cpd23

I really like online networking. Until quite recently I was always the person standing in the corner at events, trying frantically not to make eye contact with anyone whilst simultaneously endeavouring to build up the courage to actually speak to someone, so discovering that I could do this kind of thing online instead provided a fantastic opportunity to build my confidence. (That’s not to say I’m a real-life networking demon these days, but I’m certainly much happier to dive in and give it a go!)  Considering my various online networks in more detail, it’s quite apparent that the only one I use to any extent is Twitter – at the moment this seems to be working well, but perhaps I do need to give it all a bit more thought…

I’ve always been a little bit ambivalent about LinkedIn. I think I first joined it when a colleague a few jobs ago invited me to connect, and I saw it as a good way to keep vaguely in touch with professional contacts so went ahead and created a profile. Subsequently I’ve kept my details more-or-less up to date and I periodically go through phases of inviting new contacts, particularly after real-life networking events. However, finding my LinkedIn profile featuring so prominently when I was searching for myself online as part of Thing 3 was a real eye-opener – it’s great that my only wholly professional networking account is so visible, and that’s a real incentive to me to keep it tidy and current. I must admit I don’t engage with the networking aspects of LinkedIn as much as I could – I belong to a few groups on there but tend not to get involved with discussions. I will comment on a thread if I feel I can make a contribution, but that’s about it.

As I’ve said before, Facebook is my personal space. I tend not to socialise with personal and professional contacts at the same time (even with the subset of the latter which I also consider to be friends) and I prefer to keep these two spheres separate online too. I don’t think many of my friends even know I blog, let alone read it, likewise with Twitter, and I’m happy with that. I don’t think my online persona changes from group to group, and I’m comfortable with friends knowing about work stuff, and professional contacts knowing (a few) more personal things about me, but I don’t see any need or advantage in mixing the two entirely.

I joined LISNPN quite soon after it started, and I don’t really do anything with it. Occasionally I’ll have a look through the discussion threads and add my thoughts, though I’m much more likely to do this if whoever started the thread tweets about it too! More often than not I forget it’s there, which is a bit of a shame as I think it’s a really good thing. I guess I’m not really a new professional any more, but neither am I a super-experienced professional with lots to share (yet!), so other networks are more useful to me at the moment. (I don’t think this is a bad thing, either – there are so many things to join, follow and/or contribute to that it can get overwhelming, for me the key is to get involved with the one(s) which are of most use at present, and not to worry too much about moving on when they cease to be valuable.)

Librarians as Teachers
The LAT network really proves my point about connecting with the right network at the right time – currently I do no teaching whatsoever and therefore feel that I can’t really gain from or contribute to this network, but if this changes in the future I’ll be signing up.

CILIP Communities
I have to admit that I find CILIP Communities quite hard work. I know that there is some useful stuff on there, and I’ll happily follow direct links to it, but it certainly isn’t my go-to choice for anything. I’m probably missing a trick here, but am happy to take the lazy option and rely on my Twitter stream to alert me to anything of particular use or interest. And again, if I thought that getting more involved would be of use then I would make that effort.

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