The weeks’ guest post comes from…well..he wrote his own blurb so here it is:
Gaz J Johnson (aka @llordllama) blogs over here and here. In between gardening, writing, and far too much computer gaming he also makes (somewhat) entertaining videos with puppets. He also fits some work as a library manager around this somehow.
I have a little story to about Gaz (I see Gaz, I desperately want to add and extra z and the surname Topp but that would tell you far too much about my childhood) but I’ll leave that to the end of the post. Here’s his excellent piece on professional development and Social Networking:
Professional development’s a tricky little beast. Today if you turn around and ask your manager what it’s all about chances are they’ll tell you it’s about making you better at what you do. Then they’ll blink, look sideways, and remember that there was something in your most recent appraisal about “wider professional engagement”.
There used to be that bit in my appraisals too way back in the late 90s when I was starting out as a professional librarian; after a successful stint as a sales manager, drug researcher and late night telephone operator (don’t ask!). These days I almost have to tone down what I’m doing with the wider librarian environment and try and make sure there’s something about the day to day job. Don’t get me wrong, I’m fascinated by the countless aspects of my job that I have to learn more about each day (did someone say “Copyright”? Lordy I know someone will have!) but for me what’s got me stimulated and keeps me coming back for more in being able to reach out and touch someone.
No wait, come back, not like that! No matter what you’ve heard about me and the weasel.
What I mean is being able to connect with people. In the old days (well early 2000s) this was at conferences. Little secret, I’m really a shy retiring flower who finds going to conferences a bit of a trauma – having to make new friends, all that unknown elements of the sessions, worrying that no one will turn up to hear me talk.
But what do I love when I’m on the motorway hammering back to Leicestershire at exactly the speed limit? Why it’s all the new friends I’ve made, the new things I’ve learned and the fact that I had a packed room to my talk and no one laughed. Well at least not at the wrong bits. For me this kind of contact reminds me of the fabulous people who make this profession such a delight to work within.
But conferences and events cost time and money, something organisations are often loathed to give in large quantity. How can the busy professional (and professional manager in my case these days) stay on top of everything that’s going on? Easy answer is you can’t, but since I’ve got a voracious apatite for learning new things I’m not going to accept that. Sure I could read the literature (I do, it’s what gets me to sleep at night). Problem is I have a digital native wired brain with the attention span of gnat; which is probably why the bit sized chuckettes that my social networking feed (largely Twitter, but blogs and Facebook all play a part too) delivers to me are consumed with gusto. I love that by the time someone in the office gets around to recommending a new report, I’ve read it about three weeks ago thanks to some bright spark suggesting it to me. And once in a while I get to repay the community by pushing a new report that’s caught my eye too.
So does social networking give me everything a conference would? Not quite – I need those too, but in between these joyous blends of learning and socialising, I’ve got social networking to tantalise me with nuggets of news, isotopes of information and wedges of wisdom. Keeps me fresh, keeps me current and it hardly takes any time at all.
Well unless you start replying to people….
My @llordllama story, which kind-of relates to networking online and at conferences, goes like this:
If you were at Umbrella 2009 you’ll remember that there was a conference dinner at RAF Hendon. There was also alcohol. There was also karaoke. I partook in the first two. I did not partake in the third – if they’d had Tainted Love it would have been a different story…
I digress. I was sitting with a few people enduring enjoying the karaoke and occasionally checking the Umbrella Twitter feeds to see what everyone else was up to when I noticed quite a few posts from a Tweeter that called himself @llordllama – most were about the conference itself but as the evening progressed he did a commentary on the entertainment.
I have what can best be described as a heightened sense of moral injustice which magnifies ten-fold when I’ve had a drink. Or six. My indignance at @llordllama increased with every Tweet he posted. I turned to one of my friends and demanded “WHO IS THIS LLORDLLAMA PERSON?” (swearing removed to preserve professionalism). She pointed out a guy sitting across the room from us on his own and said that he was well-known in the Library world, very well-respected, etc., so I showed her his Tweets.
I can’t quite recall what was said next but, emboldened by wine and vodka I decided that I should go and have a ‘chat’ with him. I felt (probably heavily influenced by my slightly iniebriated state) that some of his Tweets had crossed the line and that I should ‘have a word’. I got up and started to move towards him when @michaelstead sat down next to him….and I had a moment of clarity. I went back to my seat and did some Muttley style growling under my breath. I then wrote @llordllama off as an idiot and he avoided getting asked to ‘discuss’ his Tweets ‘outside’ with me (I suspect I may have wanted to challenge him to a fight and I actually hate physical violence), which was probably for the best all-round really.
Of course, I now know that he’s one of the good guys but it just shows how Twitter can create a false impression of someone. I judged him based on some late-night Tweets at a conference and I very nearly made a fool of myself by challenging him about his behaviour whilst under the influence. I guess this is a lighthearted cautionary tale of when Social Networking AND networking at conferences goes awry.
No Librarians were harmed in the retelling of this story…