This is not the first piece you would have read about using networks, both real and virtual to further your career. Everyone everywhere is talking about linkedin, delicious, mendeley, twitter, zotero… (see http://www.rin.ac.uk/node/1009)
I have a linkedin profile but am hesitant about contacting people (I don’t know) through it. So what is the use?
How can slightly shy people use these tools effectively?
My limited way of using linkedin expanded a bit last evening:
I joined some groups such as Women in Technology. There are many groups within Linkedin each with its own objectives, or common interest. Members within the group can post information and start discussions online on topics that are relevant to the group. It’s an easy way to pick up information on local events (job fairs, competitions, talks, seminars), job openings, latest industry trends and interesting articles without having to scour the web yourself. The simultaneously local (whats happening in your city) and global aspect (where is the area/industry as a whole moving) is quite cool.
And I found information about a student poster competition that I will tell my students about!
All of this without having to email unknown person on the site! So I was pretty pleased. But I went one step further from the passive reader role.
I posted a discussion on an event I am organising (http://securingip.eventbrite.com ). From being an information gathering tool, linked became a dissemination tool for me. I got a few signups for the event. Some of those signing up are people I don’t know, but will meet at the event and this makes new connections for me.
I am hoping that in the future I will make even more use of these tools since that’s the direction the world is headed in.