Oh, we’re halfway there…
I am definitely a fan of social media, mainly for professional purposes although I use some sites for personal or ‘profersonal’ reasons. I found that my Twitter network started off very small but has grown considerably in the last year, and I’ve learned so much from fellow Tweeters, particularly from the blog posts and articles that are linked to. Twitter is my favourite social network but LinkedIn and forums such as LISNPN also have their part to play. A big advantage of social networking for me is an increased level of confidence when interacting with other professionals. Twitter in particular is an informal, non-intimidating environment and I feel reasonably happy about addressing random remarks to fellow Tweeters, which makes me a bit more confident in real life. However I sometimes feel that active participation in social networking can disadvantage those who don’t want or are unable to take part: perhaps they are too busy, relevant sites are blocked at work, or social networking just isn’t their thing. I don’t think people should feel obliged to use these sites and they shouldn’t be made to feel ‘out of the loop’ because of them. However, personally I have enjoyed using social networking sites and will continue to do so.
23 Things for Professional Development has been really helpful for me to make contact with different people. I’ve added several blogs to my Google Reader and try to make time for them, as well as dipping in and out of the cpd23 blog roll. It’s a perfect example of how social media can be used for professional development purposes.
I genuinely do believe social networking helps to foster a sense of community, and it’s great at enabling professionals to share ideas and items of note. However I think care needs to be taken not to exclude people, whether actively or by perception. I won’t go into details as Rachel Bickley and Lauren Smith have already written blog posts on the existence or otherwise of a ‘new professionals clique’, but I think it’s important that people don’t feel excluded, intentionally or unintentionally.
This week’s task was to add a new contact to a social network. I do make a conscious effort to add new Twitter contacts anyway, so I chose a blog to add to my Google Reader instead, ensuring I’ll always read their posts.