I began the Online Networker part of the Rudaí23 course on a Saturday afternoon, having completed my first badge (Visual Communicator) over a month ago. Some call it cramming, I call it ‘fitting it in’ so here goes.
I’m glad that Face 2 Face networking was included at the outset in Thing 10, it’s a great skill to have, to be capable of small talk that gets a conversation started with a stranger. I have had a Facebook page for a long time and have been active on Twitter since 2007, you can check your own Twitter age on sites like Twiage. Getting started on Facebook was easy, everyone I knew was on it. Twitter was less easy, it involved a lot of lurking at the beginning, following interesting people and eventually liking and retweeting, before moving on to writing my own tweets to have my say on topics. So learning how to engage, and who to engage with applies as much in a face to face setting as it does on social networks. I do a lot of networking on LinkedIn. Before I set up this blog I used it as a sort of blog when I had something long I wanted to write. I use it to share events and news too and have joined some really interesting professional groups on LinkedIn and on Facebook, and appreciate recommendations from colleagues to alert me to new groups, such as the Irish Librarians Community of Practice that was recommended in Thing 10. I really enjoyed the SLA article that was shared in the post too, Network Like Nobody’s Watching: Demystifying Networking as a Skill for the Librarian and Information Professional Community. Networking might not come naturally to everyone but I think it’s a skill we can all work at throughout our careers and aim to get better at.
The fantastic Jane Burns wrote Thing 11 for the course, and who better to get Professional Brand advice from. I’ve learned a lot from people like Jane over the years and some of the ways that I manage my brand is to keep a short bio on file so that I don’t have to start from a blank sheet whenever I have to submit something for a conference, a publication or a funding proposal. As Jane says, your biography is evolving all the time and it’s so true, I don’t think I’ve ever used the same bio twice.
Regularly Googling yourself in incognito mode is also a good check on your public profile, do it once and you might be surprised at what you see. If you have a name that also belongs to someone famous, or more high profile than yourself, you may have to work harder at being found or seen online so think of ways to differentiate yourself, e.g. your post nominals from the LAI when you become an Associate (fingers crossed, application being assessed at present) and always remember to use good photos, and if you update it in one place, think about all the other places you will need to update it too. Don’t create confusion for people online by having several different photos of yourself.
The Collaborative Tools Thing was a particularly interesting one for me. I am working on several projects at present that involve partners at different locations, including the Rudaí23 team. We have a lot of collaborative tools on the go. One thing I’ve learned is the need to be able to switch quickly from one tool to another if you find that the tool is no longer meeting our needs. Even within my own workplace when co-authoring a paper this year, we needed a collaborative workplace where we could share files and we turned again to online tools for this. In my ANLTC Research Award project Johanna and I of course have face to face meetings but we also use Freedcamp to share files and I can’t recommend it enough as a collaborative tool. It is a comfort to know that the files we need are not just stored on one of our computers, that they are ‘safe’ in the cloud too.
The VLEs that are used in online learning are often described as cumbersome but I guess that on the scale that these are offered there are going to be issues for some users. From being an online learner, and educator, I can appreciate the challenges involved for both sides when it comes to collaborative online workspaces. With OneDrive being available in Higher Ed libraries it is ironically the tool I use least, with Google Drive being a preferred option as our projects often involve people outside the Higher Ed world.
As the landscape with these new tools is always changing it is great to see a tool that has lasted as long as Doodle. It is amazingly simple to use and everyone should use it as a meeting planning tool, no subscription required, just go to the site and schedule your meeting.
This was a very practical section of the course, and beautifully short. Thanks Rudai23, and thanks too for giving people a much needed break for Christmas.