I mean, that’s pretty much my whole blog post in the title right there.
But as is my privilege, I’ll expand a bit.
I’ve been asked to give some insight into my career to date at a CIPD London meeting tomorrow night, and this is pretty much what I’m going to say.
I never knew that when I started out on Twitter and blogging that I’d be building a personal learning network. I didn’t even know such a concept like that existed. In my early days of being on Twitter and blogging it was all about trying to find like minded people who I could talk shop with. In those early days, I was in a pretty much stand alone role and knew that I just wasn’t being as effective as I could be, but didn’t know how to improve. I didn’t plan anything in using social media, it was a ll a bit of a punt to see where it’d go.
As time went on, I saw that there were others out there I could connect with that were outside of the organisation I worked for. They were in HR, L&D, OD, recruitment and coaching roles. This was cool. And not only were they out there, but they were actively discussing things to do with the broad profession – a set of discussions I could get involved with!
And as time continued to move forward, I started growing more stronger in my digital voice. People were appreciating what I had to say in the digital space and my professional opinions were gaining value because people told me as much.
What I didn’t expect to happen, though, was that I would actively start to learn through this group of people. As much as I respected my actual HR team I was working with, we never really spoke about the profession, where it was headed, why we did certain practices as we did, how to improve things – most of our conversations were about day to day things. In the digital space, I was able to start actively discussing things to do with the broader profession and engage with people from a range of companies.
As happens with these types of affairs, I met quite a few of these online types and got to know them better. We’d meet and talk and discuss things like we were friends – and of course we were, just not as we’d normally define those relationships as having been formed. This whole digital thing was redefining so much about day to day life that you almost forget to reflect on what that means.
And along the way, like I said, I really started to learn from this network of friends. It’s odd to describe them as such. But I trust quite a few of these people (more than a few in truth). When I meet these friends I end up discussing things like:
– my family
– my personal ambitions and motivations
– how I can be better
– discussing ethics
– their interests and their thinking
– digital life
– the profession
– and so much more that I can’t list it all
Professionally, I’ve grown stronger as a practitioner. I experiment and try things because of what I read about from my network. They help give me that confidence to go out there and be the best I can be, because they’re great at what they do. It’s no one person, and it’s not a homogenous group. There are people in my network who I actively talk with everyday, some I talk with regularly, and some who I just follow and they probably have no idea how much value I gain from them. I’m as much an active user of social media as I am a lurker (by the way, I really hate that word. It’s so surreptitious.)
My day to day practice has improved because of the people I know. Regardless if they practice what they preach, I can practice what I learn. I use social media to help me work things out, express my thoughts and do my thinking as I’m writing. I very rarely write things with a fully formed outcome. And the best part of all this is that I can rely on my PLN to help make me better.