I’ve been horribly lax and somehow I’ve got far far behind with CPD23. Back on track now though, I’m not sure if I’ll manage to finish on time but hopefully not too far behind everyone else!
I’ve said elsewhere that I’m lucky in that the media sector, and the Guardian in particular, is very active online and encourages the use of social media for work. I’ve been tweeting from our work account @guardianlibrary and blogging for the Datablog and From the archive for a couple of years. Engaging with readers who comment ‘below the line’ is part of writing on the web – starting a conversation, in the latest jargon – even if the comments aren’t always favourable!
I’ve only recently started using social media for professional purposes outside work, partly because of CPD23 but also because I’m chartering. My main source is Twitter, although I’ve been trying to get involved by commenting on other CPD23 blogs too.
I can’t count the number of contacts I’ve made through Twitter who I wouldn’t have encountered in everyday professional life (well I probably could but it would be a bit tedious and, well, you get my point). I’ve started attending conferences and events in the real world too, but the best contacts I’ve made there have been with people I had already encountered online. Even if you first meet someone face to face, social media offer an easy way of keeping in touch.
I don’t think social media can entirely replace face-to-face networking – for me, anyway, there’s something more tangible in actually meeting someone.
The social media world moves at an ever faster pace, too – a break of a few hours from Twitter and you can completely miss a new revelation; take a break of a few weeks (did I mention I slacked off over the summer?) and it’s a daunting task to catch up again. It might be easier to make contacts online but I think it’s harder to maintain your place in that network than in a ‘real world’ one.
There’s also a risk that you don’t break out of the echo chamber of the library world if you keep your online contacts within your professional sphere. We all know libraries are worth saving, for example, but there’s no use just preaching to the converted! But if what you’re after is a community, rather than getting a message to a wider audience, social media can be very useful.
One of the main reasons I started CPD23 was to expand my network of fellow professionals, as my physical network has been shrinking of late. When jobs are being shed and budgets cut, social media offers a nice alternative to brainstorming on your own!