Ok, I’m going to start with two confessions:
- I’m on LinkedIn but I’m not really sure why, and I know I’m not using it to my advantage.
- I’m not on Facebook. Well, ok, I have a deactivated Facebook account. For various reasons, (to save this from turning into a rant I’ll write the short version), I decided to deactivate it several years ago. However, various friends now seem to use Facebook as their only form of communication and I have to resort to peering over my partner’s shoulders to sneak a look at some of their updates, to mutterings of ‘Get your own account’. I feel that there may come a time when I cave in and go back on Facebook. You can tell I’m approaching this with a positive attitude can’t you?
So on to the task in hand: online networks.
I joined this a year ago, or it may have been two years ago. At the time I didn’t have a clear reason why I joined, and I still don’t now. I haven’t really actively gone looking for people I know, and I rarely make connection requests.
I can see its advantages in making connections, having a good professional image as a freelance worker, keeping up with contacts etc, but as I’m neither currently looking for a different job nor am I a freelance worker, it feels less relevant to me. I don’t learn new things on there or pick up links to stuff like I do with my professional use of Twitter.
But to get into the spirit of things and see if I could improve my use of it, I followed the links in the 23Things blog post on this. I’d already joined the 23Things Group in LinkedIn but unfortunately the discussions page seems to be dominated (totally overrun) by one person posting irrelevant American job adverts (WordPress doesn’t like my screenshot of this.) Isn’t there a separate page for jobs? These can hardly be classed as ‘discussions’. Perhaps I just caught it on a bad day.
I also looked at some of the other people recommended in the blog post, but I didn’t feel their profiles were particularly ‘stand-out’, suggesting that I’m doing ok with my profile itself. Although some of them have a staggering number of connections. And are members of an immense number of groups. And have recommendations.
I think one problem with my profile is that it’s not 100% library work as I put my yoga work in the profile as well, so it’s part library, part yoga. I also set it up at home and it’s not tied to my current job. If I change jobs, the account comes with me. That may not be the same for some of the other social media channels I use. And it’s also linked to my blogs, and I can’t remember if it’s linked to my Twitter account. So my updates alternate from library blog posts to yoga ones and back again… . Is this confusing for anyone?
I also have a slight problem with people I don’t know making connection requests. I don’t know them, have never met them, sometimes I’ve never even communicated with them in any way (email, Twitter etc). I feel put in an awkward position of either ignoring their request or falsely agreeing and then looking like I know this person. I amended my profile to say I generally wouldn’t accept requests from people I hadn’t had some form of contact with. Am I out of touch with how things are done?
Having also read some of the suggested links about making the most of LinkedIn including this infographic and article from 2009 (when there were nearly 50 million users on LinkedIn – now there’s over 100 million members) I realise there is more I could do with LinkedIn.
I could include my publications list, which means updating my CV on my computer to start with. I could also take more part in discussions – I have contributed to one or two so far. I could also more actively look for, and connect to, other people I know on LinkedIn. However, when I look at the suggested names that come up I think ‘Yes, I know them’, but I can’t see why I would connect to them. I just haven’t grasped it yet. Maybe I’m not very good at socialising.
Which leads nicely into Facebook!
I’ve just spent a merry 15 minutes on the Orkney Library and Archive page – I can see the benefits to a library service of being on Facebook, and in fact in my work I try to help library staff get access to social media channels.
My stumbling block is being on Facebook for myself in a personal capacity. When I was on Facebook originally I locked down my security settings as much as I could, but I gather the privacy settings are often changed, without you knowing. And at the risk of sounding like a fuddy-duddy, I do find the new timeline display very confusing… .
I don’t have a problem being visible and communicating in a professional network, but am not sure that my personal life needs to exist in an online medium. Yes, I like looking at other people’s pictures in Facebook, and sometimes I know I miss out on pieces of information about friends because I’m not on Facebook, but currently those two things are not enough to convince me to re-join.
A friend I know has a personal Facebook account and her yoga class (as a group?) – maybe the latter is the way to go for me, as a starter? This is one Thing I’m going to have to ponder for longer. I need to make sure I join for the right reasons, and have a clear strategy if I do go on there (in a professional yoga capacity).
Well, after all that I’m a bit worn out! But onto the remaining online networks. I knew about LISNPN, although I wasn’t sure if I was a member. So I joined. Although to be honest, I wasn’t impressed that it forced me to include a birthday in order to register. So I made one up. And then I couldn’t go any further with the site as the confirmation email went to work and I’m writing this at home. Oh well! Something to look forward to later. I follow LISNPN on Twitter already.
I’m not strictly speaking a librarian, and I don’t do any teaching, so the Librarian as Teacher Network isn’t really relevant for me; the CILIP Communities website was down when I looked, and I’ve not got a Google account so can’t look at Google+.
In terms of other networks I find useful, the best one in Wales for librarians remains the LIS-WALES JISCmail list.
Update: 22/6/12 – Read this interesting blog post about why be on LinkedIn and its benefits. The summary paragraph is pretty accurate I think.