Tuesday, 26 July 2011
Thing 6 - Online networks
I am on holiday at the moment - forgive me for falling so far behind in cpd23 - can't believe suddenly we're talking about Thing 9 and I am only on Thing 6! Please bear with me as I may not be able to catch up properly until next week. In the meantime...
Having read through the cpd23 blog post on online networks, I was immediately amazed at how many networks there are out there which either a) I knew nothing about or b) had heard of, but never quite got around to exploring. Therefore I have been able to get a LOT out of Thing 6 already, as it gave me some new networks to explore and sign up to. Before I talk about that though, I just wanted to touch on the ones that I was already a member of:
I originally signed up to LinkedIn because it's a very useful tool when I am asked to look for biographical information on potential clients for the fee-earners (I know - not exactly what my reasoning should have been for joining, but hey...) - however since then I have come to realise the value of this particular network. Once on there, I ended up linking to a couple of recruitment agents whom I have used in the past - I thought this was an excellent way of keeping tabs on the job market, especially in the current climate. I also connected to a number of colleagues past and present, and find it amazing that you can share blog content and other such activity.
At present I have not filled in my profile any more than citing my previous and current employment; I realise, however, that there is great scope to add more information and actually provide some narrative about what my job actually is. Having had a look at some of the example profiles, it is pretty impressive to see how people are utilising this network. While it's now a well known fact (!) that I am uncomfortable with putting a lot of personal information out there in the public domain for anyone to access, I do once again appreciate the value of a network like LinkedIn if you do use it in the way it's intended.
Not much to say on this as I think I have discussed in previous posts that I am not happy at using Facebook in a professional capacity and prefer to keep it purely for personal use. That having been said, I think I shall go along and find the fan page for 23 Things as suggested! Will probably also add CILIP to my list of pages as well.
I have to admit that I do feel personally that if you use LinkedIn to its fullest capacity, there is no need to use Facebook in a professional capacity as well - I really don't see what else Facebook could do, other than let professional contacts and colleagues have access to your life out of work, which is not always strictly necessary! However I am aware that I am most likely in the minority on that one and maybe goes hand-in-hand with my obsession (!!) with retaining my privacy!
I have been a member of the Lis-Law community for as long as I have been an legal information professional. I guess it qualifies as an online network although it's really more of a forum to which you can post questions and comments - but never mind, I'll include it here anyway! Lis-Law is a forum/network for people working in legal information, be it in a law firm, an academic library, or any other capacity. I have used it on many occasions when I am working on an utterly hopeless enquiry for a fee-earner, and neither myself nor any of my colleagues have any idea where to turn to next for the information! The idea is that you post your query online and it gets emailed to all of the Lis-Law subscribers, any of whom can then contact you with ideas/tips etc. I found it exceptionally useful when I was trying to find legal information professionals to interview for my dissertation, and indeed found 90% of my interviewees this way. For the most part (with the odd exception, but this isnt the place to go into that!!) I have found fellow users to be very polite and eager to help. There have been a few occasions where no one has come up with an answer, but it's a great tool to know is there. I think the only way I could get more use out of this in terms of networking would be to take more of an active part in terms of helping others. There have been occasions where I have seen someone post for help and I have known of a suggestion I could make - but time constraints at work have prevented me from replying to them. I think this is something I should work on...
4) Networks I wasn't aware of/hadn't explored
LISNPN - had never come across this one - just signed up and have to admit it looks pretty interesting - there's some great discussions going on, and I like the fact that you can post a reply to any topic you want or indeed start a new thread. Looks pretty straightforward to use - think will need to come back to you on my thoughts on this one once I have had more of a chance to use it.
CILIP - I had heard of CILIP's networks but this was one which I hadn't really explored in great detail. I am a member of the Career Development Group (CDG) and also CLSIG - Commercial, Legal and Scientific Information Group - but I haven't really done much more other than read the Impact newsletter from CDG and check out the CLSIG updates I get by email. However in terms of forums I have not explored this avenue at all. I'll come back to you on this one!
Thinking about what might be the most useful online network, I would have to say that LinkedIn and Lis-Law appear to me to be the most relevant and potentially the most helpful in terms of making new connections with fellow professionals. I think LISNPN might also be of value, just from my initial browse of the discussions going on. The one I don't feel has so much relevance in the professional world is definitely Facebook. I would have to agree with the Reid Hoffman quote given in the cpd23 post, that Facebook is indeed the 'backyard bbq', while LinkedIn is definitely the office! I don't think the two need to be mixed in all honesty.
Yet again, this particular Thing has given me loads of food for thought on how I can increase my online participation in networks. I think they are a concept that definitely needs to be embraced - like it or not, the way we interact on both a professional and personal level is changing, and so I think it's important to make sure we don't get left behind. I also think we are particularly lucky as a profession - information professionals do seem to be at the forefront of a great deal of the latest social media trends, therefore it's easy to learn from our colleagues.
With regard to the next 3 Things, I promise I shall be blogging on these over the next week, but for now, I am off out to dinner in the sun! :))
Image courtesy of jscreationzs: http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/view_photog.php?photogid=1152