Thing 5 – Online Networks

So as I have mentioned previously for me Facebook is really more of a personal social network and I am not so comfortable with my professional and personal social networks being combined. Not because I have anything to hide (I’m not posting inappropriate content) but I figure my professional network don’t really care about seeing a picture of me on holidays or my latest baking accomplishment but my mother might.

For professional networking I use LinkedIn and Twitter. Twitter has been so important to me in building up a network of information professionals, who in turn have been an invaluable source of support and advice. There are some things that I really love about Twitter and the first is Twitter chats. Getting involved in a Twitter chat is an excellent way of conversing with your fellow information professionals and getting to know them a bit better. I have been to countless conferences and events where the ice is broken by ‘knowing’ someone from twitter.

Twitter is a great way of sharing your thoughts and things that interest you and you can stir up conversation that way. I use Twitter to share when I have published a blog post or when I find an interesting article online. It is great for getting your message out there and in turn hearing other people’s.

Hashtags make topics easier to find so I would always encourage people to use the appropriate # where you can.

Plus my experience using Twitter in a professional networking capacity has meant that I am able to use the knowledge I have built up to utilise Twitter for work purposes.

I am curious as to whether anyone find Facebook more effective for professional networking – and if so do they have a separate personal account? Personally I just can’t see myself using one social media tool for both things – I don’t mind being part of a few groups etc. but for me when it comes to networking with professionals Twitter is the winner every time.

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Thing 4 – Google

I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with my Google account. It wished me a happy birthday this year with a special Google doodle! But, just like when it does other nice and helpful things like remind me ‘it’s time to leave for the airport’ or create a slideshow of my photos there’s a slight sense of discomfort that my Google account knows more about, and takes more interest in, the daily occurrences in my life than some of my best friends.

Despite my slight discomfort I like the fact that Google adds things from my email to my calendar and makes life easy for me where it can. I’ve used a lot of different Google tools, especially Gmail and Drive. Drive has been invaluable for some of the collaborative work I’ve been involved in.

I joined Google+ a few years ago because it is used by members of my family to share pictures in a more secure way than Facebook. (Although there are now more options on Facebook that allow you to do this.) I don’t really make much use of it and it kinda just sits there until there’s a conversation going or something being shared that I’m interested in.

The same goes for Google Hangouts – I’ve used it in a personal capacity rather than for work but I enjoy how it lets you group call and find that for more than two people it can be a better option than Skype. It also has some really fun features if you’re chatting to little people. Hangouts-on-air sounds amazing, even if its just to troubleshoot IT problems for my parents now that I am that bit farther away.

I think the main thing with all the available online tools out there is that there is no harm in giving them a go. In my experience the organisations I have worked for have certain ways of doing things and specific tools but the more experience you have with using different ones, the more likely you’ll be better equipped to troubleshoot if (or more likely when) there are technical issues.

Since moving I have realised that online access to my friends, family and networks is very important to me and so my Google account as well as other tools used to keep an online presence mean I don’t feel isolated in any way. Although I don’t really have the need to use these things for work at the moment, the fact is that someday I might and the more I know how to do, the easier it is to learn something similar or the next big thing.

 

Thing 3 – My Professional Brand

While I enjoy social media in a personal/social capacity I am slightly less comfortable with professionally ‘branding’ myself. I guess this is because as I am early in my career I’m still not really sure what my brand is. I guess for something like LinkedIn I’m happy to showcase my work both in college and as a information professional since graduating but I always find the Summary section a bit more difficult. How do I summarize myself in a short and concise paragraph?

I think I could make a lot more use of my LinkedIn profile and use it more effectively by sharing posts I write or articles and links I find interesting. Perhaps this would give people that I am connected with a bit more insight into who I am as a person and as a professional. Right now I think my LinkedIn is the CV without the cover letter – a list of my education and practical experience and very little else – it lacks any personality.

I hadn’t really thought much about this until I had to really think about why I even have a LinkedIn page for this course. I think when it comes to online presence it is a really good idea to think about why you have certain profiles and what the benefits are. For me Facebook and Instagram are for friends and family, Twitter is mainly for networking with other information professionals and LinkedIn was an extra I rarely checked or thought about. I also had an About.me page at one point but felt that it wasn’t necessary and so deleted it. I have also deleted other social networking profiles – I want to make sure that profiles I do have are useful and used so that my online presence is manageable and is a true reflection of who I am and what I’m about.

As far as who I am professionally – I hope I come across as a friendly and nice person as well as an enthusiastic and engaged early career professional who has good experience in various aspects of librarianship. I am aware that I don’t know it all but my attitude is all about learning more and putting what I have been learning into practice. social media

Thing 2 – Blogging

I haven’t always wanted to be a librarian. Strangely, I did want to be a librarian when I was very young. At that stage the library was one of my favourite places and I thought that librarians got to sit around and read books all day. To be young and naive! Honestly, I suppose I never really knew enough about my options at 16/17 to really see it as a viable career choice. I could have done more research but I think that when it came to making the dreading CAO decisions I was stuck between two fairly ‘safe’ choices – law and teaching. I ruled out law because I felt it would limit my opportunity to travel. And so, ended up in Arts.

While I was studying for my degree I realised that I didn’t really want to be a secondary school teacher and so I started looking at my other options. It’s not that I didn’t like the idea of teaching but felt that maybe I would be better suited to a different type of teaching. I considered trying to go down the road of academia and so entered into an English Masters course. It was during this course that I really re-discovered and re-evaluated my love for the library and in doing a reference module I finally became aware of the interesting and diverse career I could have as a librarian. I thought it would fulfill my ambition to have a job in which I could continue to learn, it would allow me to travel if I wanted and it would also give me an opportunity to teach, or do research, if that was what I wanted.

It took me awhile after my English degree to actually get into librarianship. I researched the career extensively in that time and was fully sure it was what I wanted and so I worked hard doing various jobs to save enough money to return to college. I mainly worked in fashion retail and while it wasn’t my dream job I did learn a lot about working with people, both in terms of customer service and management of people which at the end of the day will stand to me in any job I undertake in the future.

Making the choice to go into librarianship is certainly not an easy one, especially with the way the job market has been over the past few years. The fact is you will probably have to work for free to build experience and send countless applications before your first big break. You have to want it!

I’ve been very lucky in the different range of experience I have gotten since finishing college. I feel that as I am early in my career why not try and get varied experience and make the most of it. While all my experience has been in the medical rather than academic or public etc. arena, I have worked on cataloguing projects, in research which involved project management and literature searching, and now I have a very exciting role where I not only get to work in a library but also in an archive and museum. I am learning so much!

It is obviously very difficult to know if the choices I am making are the right ones and whether they will lead to something more secure and long term in the future. However, for right now I am really happy. I feel like I’m still a student, learning all the time and asking questions. Really and truly this is all I’ve ever wanted from a career.

I hope that in the next few years I continue to learn and not be scared to take on new challenges and learn from new opportunities. There are plenty of aspects of librarianship I would love to get more experience in such as teaching, reference desk, more digital and systems work – variety is the spice of life! I hope that I continue to have the courage to go for what I want and that I don’t get jaded if it’s a difficult road. I love librarianship – that much I’m sure of. And that helps me believe that I will work as hard as I can to ensure that whatever I’m doing it involves using my librarian skills and telling the world just how awesome librarians are.