Network or Perish
I know, a bit of a harsh title for this post but I got your attention… Seriously though, networking has for the most part always been important to being successful in whatever you pursue. I think technology though has significantly amplified the importance of networking. I believe that increasingly, in our rapidly evolving digital work and learning places, those that figure out and embrace the new forms of networking will succeed at what they do more so than those that don’t. If you’re not on the path to networking yet, maybe now’s the time to take the first step.
Friday was my last day with Coquitlam School Board and Monday will be my first with Vancouver. I didn’t realize how many social networks I had an identity in until I started to change them for this move. I had used my Coquitlam email address for most so I had to update all the digital spaces I participate in. My advice after this task is that you consider using your personal email address wherever possible for your login and email notifications… This exercise really brought to light how networked I’ve become. I have found many of these networks to be powerful career amplifying spaces. I believe they and my involvement with them, played an important role in this career opportunity and move. At Vancouver School Board, I will be in extreme networking mode for the foreseeable future, beginning with face to face and then blurring with the digital space. Exciting times ahead.
I share my presentations on Slideshare. Hundreds of people take the opportunity to view these, some may follow, comment, or favorite them. The same goes for Youtube where I’ve posted over 70 short video clips, mostly of students learning with technology or teachers sharing their experiences and practice. Again, people can freely view and use these clips, comment on them, favorite them, or follow my future posts. LinkedIn is a great professional connecting place. I see more and more people joining, presenting themselves as professionals with their skills, experience, and interests. Others can endorse them, comment, congratulate, etc. Twitter is my main networking space. From that network I learn about what’s going on in the world, in education, technology, who’s doing what, presentations others have shared, blog posts, news articles, etc. Through Twitter I also contribute my thoughts, ideas, quotes from others, share my blog, share web articles, and converse with others. My blog is my place to write what’s on my mind and share with the world. What an amazing feeling this brings when 100’s (sometimes 1000’s) of people read what I write, and many share it with others. A principal told me the other day that she really enjoyed my last post, The Rabbit Hole, and shared it in her recent staff meeting with her teachers. I often have people tell me how much they enjoy my blog – it’s very rewarding and humbling. These networking tools have become the life blood of how I connect with information, ideas, and people.
My blog has brought invitations my way to speak at conferences and to various other smaller audiences. That along with my positive digital footprint in many other social networks, has created a highly transparent story about who I am, what I think, what I’m passionate about, what my values are, what I do, and what I believe. If you follow me in these spaces you will know me professionally, and a little bit personally. When I say “transparent”, I do limit my digital footprint to mainly my professional life. I keep my personal life fairly well protected even though I do use Facebook to connect and share with family and friends and some of my professional colleagues are also my friends. But for example, although I am a Christian and have strong beliefs about our world and the future from that perspective, I focus my digital presence and participation on my professional life and interests. Incidentally, this is consistent practice in my face to face work life. My reason for sharing this is that being networked online doesn’t mean you have to be “all in” online. There’s a place and time for everything and everything does not belong online. It distresses me when friends or relatives share very personal or disturbing information on Facebook or when colleagues seem to “life blog” on Twitter. That just doesn’t sit well for me… Some conversations and topics really belong in face to face contexts and with people you have built up quite a bit of trust with.
So folks, if you’re reading this, likely you’ve at least got a toe in the streams of digital conversation and social networking. I encourage you to wade in further. If you’re a professional, you have a lot to contribute to others – use Twitter, start a blog, share your presentations, produce and share videos. There are people out there digitally connected that are just waiting to enjoy what you have to share. Reciprocally, there are people online that you need to learn from and get to know to boost your professional life to the next level. Feel free to connect with me here on this blog and on Twitter @bkuhn. Happy networking!