The first online network that I ever joined was, predictably, Facebook. I didn’t really understand what it was at the time (the only reason I signed up was because a friend sent me an invitation to play a Facebook Pirates game!). For quite a while, my Facebook profile was minimal and quite neglected – but as time passed I found that more and more people contacted me to be added to my network, including people that I had fallen out of touch with a long time ago. Thanks to Facebook, I have been able to meet up with old friends and this is the main reason that I continue to use the network. I very rarely post anything work-related on Facebook as I prefer to use Twitter to chat about my professional interests. I also have my Facebook privacy settings on maximum, as I like to be able to post silly comments and photos without worrying about them appearing in a Google search. I don’t consider Facebook to be part of my online brand – it’s just an informal space online where I can chat to my friends.
Another network that I joined when it first started in 2010 was LISNPN, which is an online forum for those new(ish) to the library profession. I was quite excited when LISNPN started because I’ve always been a big fan of forums – I like the way that you can read back over whole conversations between groups of people, something which isn’t always easy to do on Twitter unless people are using hashtags. However, I’ve found that I haven’t really used LISNPN as much as I thought I would – I think that many people possibly prefer the immediacy of Twitter to the more static nature of an online forum, and this may be why LISNPN hasn’t been as active as some other online networks. I still find the resources section really useful on LISNPN, and I subscribe to the blog feed as well. However, I do find it helpful when the LISNPN team post links to new forum discussions on Twitter, as this reminds me to go back and check the forums from time to time.
A network that I’ve had in my bookmarks for quite a while but haven’t actually joined is the Librarians as Teachers network. I think that this network is a really good idea, but it’s one which I will probably join at some point in the future rather than right now. I hope eventually to have some teaching responsibilities within my job description once I attain a professional post, but at the moment I am still a graduate trainee and so I don’t feel that I have much to contribute to a network which discusses teaching practice. I do however follow the LAT network on Twitter so that I can keep up to date with any useful news or articles that people share via the website.
Just for CPD23 I have decided to set up a LinkedIn profile. Up until now I’d been avoiding LinkedIn as I felt that I didn’t really know anyone else who used it – but thanks to CPD23 there are now quite a few people I know who have created LinkedIn profiles! Another reason that I’ve avoided LinkedIn in the past is because I’m wary of publishing detailed information about my employment history on the Internet for all to see. I’m not certain how the information could be used in any productive way by an identity thief, but I think that it’s always best to be cautious when publishing personal information online.
My first impression of LinkedIn is that it is very easy to use, but I do find it a lot more formal than other online networks. For example the LinkedIn rules state that you should only invite people to connect if you know them ‘well’ and that if too many of your invitations get rejected because the recipients say that they don’t know you, your account could be frozen or you could even be banned from LinkedIn altogether! I found all this to be quite intimidating and it made me think twice about whom to connect with. I was unsure as to which of my contacts I knew well enough to invite to LinkedIn – for example, is it okay to invite people who I follow on Twitter? I feel that I know many Twitter people quite well, although I haven’t actually met them – but as I am not a particularly prolific tweeter myself it is quite possible that they don’t feel the same way about me. There’s also the possibility that I could invite someone whom I’d met briefly, but for that person not to remember me – this could definitely lead to awkwardness if they chose to reject my invitation. I was also worried about appearing to be presumptuous by inviting people whom I knew but whom I hadn’t spoken to at any great length – I didn’t want to risk being thought of as rude. Overall, the whole thing seemed like a bit of an etiquette minefield!
In the end, I decided mainly to invite people whom I had met in real life and spoken to at least once. However, I can’t help but feel that this somehow defeats the point of having an online network, as I feel that I should be able to network with people in my field whom I haven’t met but with whom I share common interests, just like I do on Twitter. In summary, although I’ve decided that I do like LinkedIn, for the time being I’m going to continue to use it cautiously until I understand a bit more about how it works.
I haven’t subscribed to the CILIP Communities network as I’m not yet a member of CILIP. However, I have explored the website and so far I have found quite a lot of useful resources and blogs, as well as some interesting forum discussions. I like the fact that much of the information is open-access, which means that you don’t have to become a member in order to read it or download files. Whether I join CILIP Communities will probably depend on whether I have enough time to engage properly with another social network on top of Facebook, Twitter, LISNPN and LinkedIn. It will also depend on whether I finally make the decision to become a member of CILIP – more on this to come in CPD23 Thing 7: Face to Face Networks and Professional Organisations!