It’s All About Your Professional (Social) Network

I have boiled down my PETE&C notes, and one thing keeps bubbling to the surface: “It’s All About Your Network.” What do I mean by network? My network is a collection of face-to-face and online friends and colleagues with whom I am in regular contact. We communicate via spoken conversation, typed chats, status updates, comments on posts, emails…..etc……….

In the last two weeks:

  • As I prepared my presentation on Edmodo, my friend Michelle Krill mentioned that she had made contact with one of the creators of Edmodo at a conference in January. She sent him a message suggesting that he grant me access to some yet-unreleased features of Edmodo. That was great! Later, I saw another friend in my network, and he picked up his phone and called the guy from Edmodo. By evening, I had access to the soon-to-be-released features, and I was able to provide a demo of them during my conference presentation the next day. My network shared to me; I shared to others. (By the way, check out Michelle’s presentations from PETE&C. One of them is on Personal Learning Networks — good stuff!).
  • As I continue to explore our blogging platform at YS, I make contact with others who already use it. From them, I have learned how to change some key admin settings, customize my avatar, add a “subscribe by email” option in the sidebar, and tweak my feedburner settings. I then shared this information with some interested teachers here at YS. Their blogs are developing!
  • I gather and share resources via Diigo (social bookmarking).
  • I gather resources, follow conversations, and ask and answer questions via Twitter.
  • A friend contacted me via Skype to ask if I could be on hand to demo web conferencing with a group that he was working with. Would I help him? Of course!
  • The list goes on and on…..

HUGE point: Not too long ago, I didn’t know ANYTHING about the things I know how to do now. I didn’t take any classes to learn. My network taught me! I just listened, asked questions, and did a lot of exploratory clicking.

How does one build a network? There are several ways. Sign up for Twitter and begin to follow others who interest you. Utilize social bookmarking like Diigo or Delicious and reap the bounty that others share. Subscribe to a few blogs (especially those written by innovative teachers…start here and here).

A network is a complex thing, but it’s not hard to build. You just have to get started. If you would like assistance building your network, please ask! I will make time for you.

One last note: Ask anyone who is networked how their network has made a difference. Recently, our very own Steve W. needed to find an old-fashioned slide carrousel. He threw out a request in Facebook and Twitter. Within minutes…..yup.

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