Blog resurrection and Twitterfall

Hello! After nearly 3 years, I’ve decided to resurrect this blog.  There are various reasons for choosing to do this now.  I’m overseeing the setting up of a new library and information service, and am therefore thinking about lots of new things.  I’ve just properly started on CILIP chartership – I registered in February, but haven’t really got very far up until the past week or so.  Finally, in the past few weeks I’ve registered for 2 conferences, having not attended one for a couple of years, and am feeling a renewed enthusiasm for my CPD.

This evening I attended my first #chartership twitter chat.  I’ve previously used Hootesuite for twitter chats, but decided to try out another tool I’d heard of for this evening – Twitterfall.  Tweets fall into the Twitterfall screen a bit like a slow waterfall.

waterfall

Photo by Tom Hall via Flickr http://bit.ly/1LAq3qx

You can choose which tweets you see with a list, search or location and you can exclude searches too.  There’s also tick boxes to add tweets from your timeline, that you’re mentioned in or your direct messages.  I just used a search for #chartership and missed some replies to my tweets that were missing the hashtag.  Now I’ve found the mentions tickbox I’ll use that as well for chats so I don’t miss helpful replies!

I like how tweets fall slowly onto the page slowly.  If lots of people are tweeting at once you don’t get overwhelmed.  I’m quite a slow reader and the default speed worked for me, but you can speed it up if you want. Once I’d worked out symbol that looks a bit like a refresh button was a ‘View conversation’ button, that was useful too.

Twitterfall

I also realised partway through the chat that if you’re hovering over one of the tweets in the fall, the fall is paused so you don’t get any new messages.  This is a really useful feature if you’re taking a bit longer to read a tweet, trying to catch up with them or contemplating a response.  However, if you find yourself wondering why no one is tweeting, check you haven’t left your cursor hovering over the fall.

When you hover over a tweet an arrow appears at the right hand side giving you various options – DM, Follow, Favourite, Reply, Retweet, Report and View.  You can follow, favourite, reply and retweet satisfactorily from within Twitterfall, but when I tried View it took me to Twitter and when I returned to Twitterfall it started the fall all over again.  So, if you want to view someone’s Twitter page, I’d open the View link in a new tab/window.  One thing I found quite frustrating was that you don’t get a normal mini profile when you hover over someone like you do in Twitter – the pop up you get is missing their picture and blurb.

Twitterfall2

Overall, Twitterfall worked really rather well for following a twitter chat and I’ll be using it again.

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The Art of Networking

This evening I attended a UCL Skills4Work workshop on networking.  I signed up for it because networking is on my list of skills I want to improve on in the coming year.  I came away with some useful ideas, so I thought I’d share them here:

  • If you want to start a conversation with someone start with an open-ended question about them.  Use the situation to help you think of something (you don’t have to go in with “So, what do you do?”).
  • If a conversation isn’t going so well and you want to move on there isn’t really an easy way to do it.  You just need the courage and to be honest.  A good closing comment could be “Great to meet you, hope you have a great event.”
  • Listening is really important.  Aim to spend 70% of the time listening and 30% of the time talking.
  • Your elevator pitch.  I’d heard of this before, but not prepared one – it’s your 30 second answer to “What do you do?”.  Say what you do, why you do it and what your passions are – don’t just list facts.  Practice it, but make sure it doesn’t sound scripted.  It should be flexible depending on the situation.

Things 6 and 7: Professional networking – better known, better connected, better equipped

This post was written for 23 Things for Professional Development, Thing 6: Online networks and Thing 7: Real-life networks.

Professional networking is all about building relationships with people, sharing information with them and helping each other.  I often find the initial connecting stage of networking daunting, particularly in a large room/online network full of people I don’t know, but it’s something I’m definitely getting better at.  Once I’ve got past that first stage though, I find networking really fun.  I love talking to people and finding out what they do, I really enjoy helping other people – that’s one of the main reasons I joined the profession – and having people I can turn to when I need help makes life much easier and less stressful.

On the cpd23 Thing 6 post Helen suggests all the advantages of online professional networking fall under the headings of becoming:

  1. Better known
  2. Better connected
  3. Better equipped

I like this way of thinking about networking and I think it applies to real-life networking as well as online networking.  If you want more information on the What, How, Who, Where, When and Why of networking I would recommend the recorded webinar on this blog post.  I’ll now go on to discuss some networks I already use and some I have investigated for things 6 and 7.

Colleagues

My workplace is where I do most of my real-life professional networking.  I work for a large library and get a chance to work alongside, or at least chat during tea breaks with, a fairly large number of library professionals at various stages in their careers and with various areas of expertise.  I also have a ready made network in the other Oxford University library trainees, who meet regularly for training sessions.

Twitter

Twitter is currently my main online networking tool.  As I said in my Thing 4 post, I find my twitter network really useful for keeping up to date with news and trends in the profession.  One of the best things about twitter as a professional network is that there are so many different people there – it’s not limited to one sector or one career stage like some of my other networks are.  Even though I’ve only been on twitter a few months I already have 99 followers on twitter (almost all library and information professionals), most of whom would probably never have heard of me if it weren’t for twitter, and I’ve had tweets retweeted so even more people will have seen my name in connection with something library-related.  Twitter has also helped me keep in contact with people who I’ve met at real-life networking events such as the CILIP New Professionals Day.

CILIP

CILIP, and other professional associations, have great potential as a source of networking opportunities.  So far the only one I’ve really taken advantage of was the New Professionals Day, but I’m planning to attend my first regional branch meeting on the 4th of July in Reading (on updates in copyright) and hope to be able to make it to more events in London once I’m studying there.  I really enjoyed the New Professionals Day not just because of what I learnt at the sessions, but also because I got to meet lots of other new library and information professionals.  Talking to other attendees between the sessions, at lunch and afterwards at the pub I got to find out more about where other people were in their career, what they do, where they were going and their opinions on the talks and workshops.  My only regret was not getting contact details for some of the interesting people I met.

Even though I’ve been a member of CILIP for about eight months I didn’t know about the existence CILIP communities, a collection of forums, blogs and people, until I started Thing 6.  It’s interesting to know it’s there, but looking through recent threads on the forums there weren’t any conversations I felt I immediately wanted to join in with and I seem to follow most of the blogs that I find interesting already.

LISNPN

LISNPN was the first online professional network I joined and it really made me feel part of something bigger.  I enjoyed finding out about other graduate trainees on the forum, which resulted in my first real-life networking event outside my workplace when I went to London to meet other trainees and LIS students.  I’ve also found the downloadable resources section with anonymous reviews of LIS degrees and how to guides for tasks such as using twitter, getting published and interviewing well (as the interviewee).

LinkedIn

The Oxford trainees had a session at the Oxford University Careers Service a couple of weeks ago which was amazingly useful and covered, among other things, LinkedIn.  Some of the top tips I came away with were:

  •  The headline, summary and your name are the bits that are searchable from a search engine, so make sure keywords are there. (The headline is the bit below your name, e.g. ‘Radcliffe Science Library Graduate Trainee at Bodleian Libraries’, and you can change it by going to Edit profile and clicking on the edit link next to your name)
  • Recommendations! You can get recommendations from anyone your connected with, which means you can basically have references from people you’ve worked with or for, but who aren’t your line manager.  I think this is brilliant, but it does have the rather large downside that you can only get recommendations from people who are on LinkedIn.
  • There are lots of sections you can add if you think they’re relevant, such as courses, projects and volunteer experience.  Find the link to add them just under the big grey box on the Edit profile page.
  • You can change your public profile url so that it’s your name rather than a string of numbers, for example mine is http://uk.linkedin.com/in/lizzieatkinson
  • A good LinkedIn profile can back up what you’ve put on a job application.  According to a 2011 US survey by Reppler 48% of hirers use LinkedIn to screen candidates and although (I strongly hope) you won’t be rejected for not having a LinkedIn profile, 68% of hirers had hired someone because of what they saw on a social networking site (not necessarily LinkedIn).  I’ve no idea what those stats would be like for library and information jobs in the UK, but if it might help me get a job it sounds like a good idea.

I came away from the session feeling very positive about LinkedIn and determined to vamp up my rather bare and neglected LinkedIn profile.  I wanted to include details about all the jobs I’ve had and all the volunteering I’ve done as they’ve all developed skills that would be useful for jobs I might want to apply for and I didn’t want to miss anything out.  Then I sat down and had a bit of a rethink.  I’m fairly open and happy for people to find me online, but I felt like I was putting my life history out there online and wasn’t really comfortable with that.  So, for now, I’ve stuck to my library work experience, with a description of my current post, and my degree with a bit of an explanation of what it was because the title doesn’t make it obvious, the projects I did and a list of the societies I was on the committee for and some of the outreach volunteering I did.

LIKE

LIKE is the London Information & Knowledge Exchange.  I’ve not been to any of their events before but had heard of them and some of their meetings sound really interesting.  I’m hoping to make it to some of their meetings once I’m studying in London.

Organise your own event

Finally, if you think it would be good if there was an event to share ideas about a particular topic or for a particular group of people to meet then make it happen.  It might involve a lot of work or it might not.  I organised a cpd23 meet up in Oxford last week.  All I had to do was suggest a time and place via this blog and twitter and I got to meet some interesting library and information professionals who I’d not met before (as well as some who I had).

cpd23 Oxford meet up – Wednesday 13th June

Are you taking part in cpd23 and would like to meet other participants?  Have you taken part in cpd23 previously and would like to share your wisdom with some newbies?  Or just like the idea of a sociable couple of hours with other library folk?  As next week is cpd23 ‘real life networks’ week I’m organising a meet up in Oxford next Wednesday 13th June from 5.15pm at The Mitre on the High Street.  Everyone welcome, cpd23 participant or not.