This post is part of 23 Things for Professional Development.
I’m a very active user of online networks, and have been for several years. For introverts like myself, online networking is invaluable: it allows me to make connections with people who I’d have been too nervous to approach in real life, it lets me dip in and out when I want to, and crucially it allows me to spend time thinking about what I want to say before I say it!
Online networking has also given me more confidence in face-to-face situations. It’s rare now that I go to a library-type networking event where I don’t recognise people I’ve met online, which makes things a lot easier when it comes to approaching and speaking to people. Using online networks has also given me a way to boost my professional profile, as well as making new contacts and reinforcing the contacts I already have.
So, here’s a bit about the networks suggested in Thing 6:
I like LinkedIn a lot. I know I may be in the minority with this, but there we go. I like having a space on the web that is purely professional, and that thanks to the magic of LinkedIn’s SEO I can be fairly sure will be near the top if anyone googles me. I also find it a really good way to keep up with former colleagues and other professional contacts who aren’t as active on Twitter etc. I get a weekly email that tells me which of my contacts have updated their profiles, which gives me a heads-up as to who has changed jobs or is doing something else new and different – I often use that as a prompt to get back in touch with someone, even if only to say a quick “congrats on your new job”.
My profile is pretty much complete, although there are certainly improvements I can make. My photo is pretty old and I’ve cut my hair short since it was taken, so I should probably change that. I have added my most recent job on there, but I haven’t filled out the details of what I do yet – I need to get round to that at some point. I could probably do with a better “tagline” too – under my name it just says my job title, but you can edit that to say whatever you want. I’d like to put something more descriptive there, but I’m not really sure what!
One thing that LinkedIn keeps telling me I need to do to “complete” my profile is to get some recommendations, which so far I’ve not tried to do. I’m not hugely comfortable with asking people for recommendations, it feels a bit pushy to me! I know it isn’t really, I just need to get over my hangups here. Has anyone else asked for recommendations for their profile? How did you go about it – i.e. who did you ask and how, and was it hugely embarrassing or am I worrying over nothing?
I use the Groups quite a lot on LinkedIn – I lurk mostly, but I like to keep an eye on what conversations are happening and will drop in if and when I have something to add. My current favourite group is LIS Career Options – it’s a subgroup of the American Library Association, so has a very American focus, but there are some great discussions going on there about careers and job hunting tips.
Ah, the Book of Faces. I hate it. I’m on there – grudgingly – because a lot of friends and family who I otherwise wouldn’t hear from much are on there, but I barely use it. I occasionally post photos from social gatherings where a lot of my Facebook friends were there, because it feels kind of expected to do that, but I don’t really update my status or post on people’s walls unless I’m replying to something. I have my profile pretty well locked down, so if you don’t know me you can only see my photo and name, and I don’t add people I don’t know in real life. I do nothing at all professional on there – it’s personal use only.
I’m not sure exactly when I started hating Facebook – it may have been around the time I started using Twitter! I just don’t really see any value in it any more, at least not for me. I’d probably have to look into it more if I worked in a sector where most of my clients were on Facebook, such as a school, FE or HE library, but as the use of Facebook is generally frowned upon in the legal world I don’t see the need to try to make myself not hate it!
I love LISNPN. I’m not as active on there as I should be – I tend to lurk rather than post anything on the forums, mainly because when I see something interesting someone else has usually chimed in with what I was going to say already – but I find it really valuable for catching up with others at the start of their careers. I’ve also organised a few face-to-face meetups for LISNPN – a couple in London when I lived there, and a couple in Leeds since I moved here at the start of the year. The meetups have been great – usually a good mix of people with varying levels of experience, and from diverse sectors, and it’s always a good chat. The meetups I’ve organised have all been very informal affairs – held in a pub, no nametags, no agenda, just a free-flowing chat about anything and everything. At the first one I organised, I think we mainly talked about cats… I’d be interested to hear how people feel about that approach. I get the impression that some LISNPN meetups in other areas have been a bit more structured, with at least an idea of topics of conversation to focus on – would people prefer that/would that make the meetups more valuable?
Librarians as Teachers
I did join LAT in my old job, but since moving to my new place of work I don’t really have any involvement with user training, so I haven’t looked at this network for a long time. It’s a great idea though, so I’d urge anyone who does have involvement with teaching/training in their roles to give it a look. I’m inclined to agree with the divine Library Wanderer, although I’ll not put it half as entertainingly as she managed – LAT is a network that you won’t need until you really need it.
I’ve tried to like CILIP Communities, I really have. I just don’t quite see the point. I think it’s a good idea, in theory, I just don’t really have a gap for it with the way I currently use online networks. I must admit, I was impressed recently, when looking for a chartership mentor in my area, to find that a few of them did have full profiles on CILIP Communities that were linked to from the lists of mentors on the CILIP website. It made it much easier to get a sense of who they were and if we’d be able to work together – certainly more so than from just the name and place of work, which is all you’ve got to go on for most mentors! That seemed like a really valuable use of the resource. I also like the idea of the CILIP Bloggers landscape, although I don’t really use it (even though I’m a CILIP Blogger myself!) – I prefer to subscribe to blogs individually.
So: nice idea, just doesn’t really fit with my life right now. Sorry CILIP!
So, in line with my last post about reflective practice, I think I should set myself some actual tasks based on this Thing:
- Complete my LinkedIn profile – add an updated picture, fill out the description for my most recent job role, come up with a descriptive tagline
- Maybe, possibly, at some point, if it’s not too scary, think about asking for some recommendations… (can you tell my heart’s not really in this one?)
- Make more of an effort to contribute to LISNPN – maybe set a goal of one comment per week? That’s not too hard, is it?
- Update my profile on CILIP Communities – I’m not really using it, but I am on there and I’m fairly certain my profile is horribly out of date! If I’m not going to delete it – and, on balance, I think it’s just about worth keeping – I should at least keep it updated, even if it’s just basic.