Thursday, 3 February 2011

Tips on Social Networking

A really interesting article from the Harvard Business Review about social networking. I picked up on it via a 'tweet' from John Seely Brown, who is one of the few people I currently follow on Twitter and who also happens to be one of the authors. The article presents "five tips for smarter social networking":

I don't really consider myself to be much of a social networker. I've got a Facebook account which I never post to, and a Twitter account which I've only just set up to use in connection with my next module on the OU MA ODE course. Nevertheless, the article struck a chord with me in relation to my experience of blogging. I blogged a fair bit when I did H800 last year, but I often felt quite uncomfortable about doing it. This article has helped me to put things into context, and has perhaps given me a bit more confidence in blogging. Let me explain by referring specifically to each of the five tips:


1. Express more vulnerability. 
I suppose I've always had a perception that we're supposed to present a strong, confident persona to the world, and that it is not really appropriate to display one's shortcomings openly. One of the reasons I've used social networking so little in the past is that I have never felt that I had anything to say which anyone would be interested in. The point here is that, by identifying challenges we are facing we might actually be able to get advice from other people. Even if we don't get advice it doesn't do any harm to articulate the difficulties we are having.

2. Mix professional and personal lives
My natural tendency is to compartmentalise my life into family, study, work, social, etc. I've even thought about running separate Twitter accounts for each aspect. Of course, this would be a nightmare to maintain, so I've gone for a single Twitter account. Similarly with blogging, when I started my blog last year it related only to my studies. This time I'm hoping that I will be able to cover a variety of issues, including my studies, my work, and even a bit of fun stuff. 

3. Provoke. 
I've always been slightly nervous about putting anything vaguely contentious in the public domain, so my blog posts have generally avoided anything controversial. Maybe I need to be a bit more provocative.

4. Promote others
I think this is a good idea. If I see something useful or interesting, then I'm happy to draw it to the attention of others. This seems to me to be exactly how social networks should work.

5. Actively seed, feed and weed.
I also agree with this point. I think social networking needs to be carefully cultivated. I don't see the point of blindly following celebrities on Twitter. We should use them to make connections and contribute to our own understanding of the world.

So - let's see if I can put these tips into practice over the coming months.

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