CPD23 2011 Thing 6 – Online Networks

What I had to say about online networks in 2011 – 

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I love online networking, I think I may be addicted!

For me it all started way back in 2004 when I started posting in TV fan forums, I am pleased to report that I have outgrown that phase now. However a group of us who “met” on one these forums back in 2006 have created our own private, invitation only forum where we still pop in regularly to chat. We know each other well now and meet in person regularly, it feels like a nice safe and private place to be.

Looking at the specific sites mentioned in Thing 6 I am very active on some of them, others not so –

LinkedIn
I have been on LinkedIn for a few years now but never bothered with it that much until recently when work started encouraging us to use it. Since then I have beefed out my profile a little (though it still needs work as I mentioned in Things 3 on personal branding), added a professional looking photo and linked one of my Twitter accounts to it. I have also made a big effort to add more connections. So why do I use LinkedIn? I am not looking for a job at the moment but in this financial climate you never know what might happen so it does no harm to be prepared and ready just in case the worst does happen. I have also found LinkedIn to be a useful resource for finding out information about people. For example the lawyers sometimes ask us to put together information about a new client or the guests at a dinner they are going to etc, by connecting to lots of lawyers at the firm I am now connected to over 100,000 people many of whom are exactly the people our lawyers are likely to be meeting and socialising with, this is a valuable extra source of information.

Facebook
I have mixed feelings about Facebook, I am on there and I do have lots of friends on it and I do post regularly but then there are all the privacy issues that Facebook regularly throws at us. So on Facebook I don’t say where I live, work or went to school and university. I have also hidden my date of birth and email address and I only friend people I genuinely know, either from real life or well established connections from other online networking sites. Apart from one word game I have deleted all the apps from my account, I don’t want third-party developers getting hold of my personal information. These days I really only use Facebook to share photos and to keep in touch with friends and family who live far away. I am connected with a fair number of people I work with so I am careful about which photos of me are tagged and what I say in my status updates, though as I never do anything too outrageous there shouldn’t be a problem anyway. I think it’s a good thing to have fun and it does no harm to be seen having fun when appropriate! For me Facebook is about the fun side of life.

LISPN
I follow LISPN on Twitter but I have decided not to join the network as I am definitely not a new professional, I have been working in law libraries for 16 years now (ouch, I am old (well middle-aged maybe)) and to be honest I have enough other networks to try to keep up to date with. I did however encourage the girl I recently mentored through Chartership to join and I know she has been finding it a valuable resource in difficult times.

CILIP Communities
I am signed up for this but I very rarely check the forums and I have posted even less frequently. I think it’s just too many steps to sign in and see it, much easier to look at Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn on my phone!

There are of course other places for online networking –

SLLG and BIALL
Both the Scottish Law Librarians Group and the British and Irish Association of Law Librarians have forums, wikis and email lists for sharing with colleagues. I am an irregular user of them all, mainly when I have a problem and need help quickly. I do try to reciprocate and give help when I can.

Twitter
I tweet too much rubbish from one of my accounts and not enough good stuff from the other. I still love Twitter though and having it on my phone is amazing.

I conclude this post as I started it, I love online networking and can’t imagine my professional or personal lives without it. I have made many useful professional contacts through Twitter, and some good friends from way back in the original days of TV fan forums and giggled over photos on Facebook.

I didn’t get an invitation to join Google+ but once it’s open to all I will have a nosy around and establish a presence there and wait and see how that develops and what I can do with it.