Workshop Six: New professionals: Build your network using social media
My final workshop of the conference was another of Jo Alcock’s sessions, this time focusing on social media – blogs, Twitter and social networking in particularly. I’m not really sure whether I’d be considered an ‘early adopter’ or not, having originally set up this blog in January 2006 – back when you needed to know your way around some basic HTML if you wanted anything to look nice, but it feels like I’ve been doing it forever! I’ve also been on Twitter since May 2008, when people were still in the habit of writing ‘is’ before any update, so my choice of workshop may seem odd to anyone who is already familiar with this. What I really wanted to get out of the session I guess was how to improve the professional networking side of being a social media advocate.
My blog hasn’t always been about librarianship, it hasn’t always necessarily been personal… it’s just been somewhere I’ve come to write stuff down, like a diary in some respect. I write about the things I do, the things I read, the things I see but as I sign, seal and send away my Chartership registration forms I’m starting to think it’s about time I started to focus – give my blog a purpose. I still have Rigz to upload funny pictures to afterall.
Like Jo I’m a ‘keen blogger and microblogger’ (too keen sometimes) and therefore decided I’d use this opportunity to share my own experiences and join in with the discussion on useful tips for building an online professional network.
The term ’social media’ really refers to any ‘user-created content’ we find online (it doesn’t even need to be online – it just is in this case as we’re focusing on ‘virtual’ networking). Blogs, Twitter, Facebook, Linked In etc are all included in this and Jo began by presenting a short overview of what each of these are.
When asked to think about the benefits of professional networking we got talking about our current uses of social media and came up with a list of examples not too dissimilar to those Jo had already prepared (with the help of Ramsey, 2004). These included:
- virtual attendance at events (through #tags etc);
- sharing best practice;
- getting expert advice;
- receiving moral support;
- marketing yourself and your skills to other people.
Again, I already get this part and these are some of the points I’d list to anyone just starting out… Now for the hard part – building the network and putting all this into practice!
Jo has been particularly successful with this part (her blog currently boasts 427 subscribers and she has 944 Twitter followers – probably more now) and so I was mostly interested in hearing about her experiences of getting her name ‘out there’. I like the conversational aspects of blogging and tweeting but I don’t seem to be that good at encouraging these things, how can I change this?
Well, there are a number of useful tools to help with this such as:
- UK Library Blogs Wiki;
- UK Library Blogs custom search engine;
- New Professionals bloggers bundle;
- Social networks – Facebook/Linked In;
- British Librarians on Twitter;
- More British Librarians on Twitter;
- UK Library Bloggers;
- Twitter Lists – see #exeter10 and #npc2010.
Some of Jo’s other top tips included:
- Adding links to your email signatures;
- Including usernames etc on your business cards;
- Linking your accounts;
- Engaging in conversation;
- And keeping your content up-to-date.
Right, got it… now on to getting the lexrigby brand OUT THERE (as soon as I think up a snazzy visual/value/emotional strap line).
‘The main feature of a good network is that it is mutually beneficial’ – WACM Comms. dept, 2006. OK OK I’ll start writing about stuff my readers (all 21 of them) are interested in not just what I am! Wish me luck.
As ever Jo’s slides are available on Slideshare.