This week we’re asked to consider online networks, including social and more professional options. Starting with two of the big ones, I must agree with the statement that “Facebook is the backyard BBQ; LinkedIn is the office” (Reid Hoffman, founder of LinkedIn, quoted here). I’ve also tried to get into using LISNPN and Google+.
Oh Facebook. You lured me away from My Space, despite being far less customizable. I was once one of those geeks that had added html coding to totally customize my MySpace with an awesome background and color scheme… But Facebook was only for people affiliated with universities at that time. And all of my friends were on there (I was in grad school at University of Virginia at the time), while only some were on My Space. Of course, probably within a year of joining FB, I learned that Murdoch, infamous owner of Fox Noise, had bought My Space — I cannot in good conscience contribute to his mission, so I deleted that account. Yes, politics killed that social network for me.
Facebook has definitely been like a backyard BBQ for me. It’s where you chat with friends (only those I’ve met in real life, though), reconnect with high school friends, see pictures of your friends’ new babies, find out what ever happened to that old boyfriend, get invited to events… I even used Facebook to send invitations for my wedding reception!
In the past year, I’ve started following a few professional pages — ALA, Library Journal, etc. And I’ve joined a group for LIS students at my university. Unfortunately, because of the way I’ve interacted with Facebook since I first joined, these efforts to bring professionalism into that realm have largely flopped.
To get more out of Facebook professionally, I would need to completely change the way I behave on there… OK, “behave” might not be the best word, since that suggests that I currently behave badly! But I have it locked down tight, so that only the most limited amount of info is visible to those who are not friends. My posts there are generally silly personal posts about my dogs, rather than anything professionally interesting. And, I do tend to show my political colors a bit more on there than is professionally appropriate (especially during a job search!). I like having that backyard BBQ space to post those links and vapid comments.
LinkedIn is a totally different vibe. You are on display, there to see and be seen. Where Facebook wants to know your interests, favorite tv and movies, and so on, LinkedIn wants to see your resume.
It works for what it is. I carefully crafted my profile, though it says I’m only 90% done… It wants me to import my resume, though I’ve already done that, then had to fix the errors it added! The big problem for me, though, is that very few of the people I know professionally are actually on there. I’m guessing that the few who are on there joined for the same reason I did — added visibility in the job search. As such, they’re not particularly active now that they have jobs!
One somewhat useful feature that I’ve used has been the groups on LinkedIn. I haven’t done as much as I could have with that, though, and the ones I have joined don’t seem incredibly active. Of course, that’s in comparison to Twitter, where I can rarely keep up with the stream of new posts & links!
LIS New Professionals Network (LISNPN)
I learned about this network when it was featured on the Hack Lib School blog. I must admit that I joined, posted in the “introduce yourself” forum post, and have rarely remembered to check back. I should try to be better about checking in and posting there, but we’ll see how that goes. In addition to the forums (which have been my focus when looking in the past), they have a blog and a list of downloadable resources that seem to cover a range of topics that new professionals may encounter.
If LinkedIn is the office, Google+ is the office water cooler. So far, most of the people in my circles are people that I also follow on Twitter. And I definitely have not optimized my experience there yet — with all the traveling and whatnot that I’ve been doing since it opened, I just haven’t had time to do much with it yet.
However, I think it will be a nice middle ground between the stuffy “show me your qualifications” feel of LinkedIn and the casual, personal, backyard BBQ feel of Facebook. Like with Twitter, you get a mix of personal and professional, except in a slightly longer form than Twitter’s 140 character limit allows for. It’s also nice that comments on posts function more like what I’m used to on Facebook — they appear below the post and are visible whether I know/follow the commenter or not.
At this point, I think that I will likely shift the time spent on Facebook and LinkedIn to Google+. I have been kind of fading out of Facebook for a while, so it’s not a radical departure caused by the shiny new network. The real competition for my attention will be between Google+ and Twitter… So we’ll see how that goes!