Wednesday, 14 November 2012

What is a Professional Network?

In the Networked Professional reader, Alan Durrant suggests that a Professional Network might be seen as, 'a work related community held together by either close working affiliation or more distant but common work interests or needs' (p.2).

I thought that, before I get into looking at the different theories behind the idea of Professional Networking, I would look into what I currently see as my own network. The thinking behind this is, that I can look back on this diagram, in the light of the further reading, and see how relevant or irrelevant I find these concepts. As Alan Durrant says, 'You should treat each idea in a critical way, questioning its utility and value' (Reader 3 - The Networked Professional, p.2).

When I started looking at my network the first thing I did was to jot down a diagram of ideas and initial thoughts in my journal:

I can see, from these initial thoughts, that I view my network from the point of view of the people I connect with. The emotional connections I make with the people I come across seem to make (or break) for me their importance within my network. In every circle I have created, I visualise a particular person, or group of people, and it is the role these particular people play within my network that I have scribbled underneath. For example, within course leaders I immediately picture several lecturers that have really inspired me; in BAPP I picture all the people I have met or whose blogs I have read.

The second thing that I notice in my diagram is that pretty much every bubble has a link to another circle, or circles, apart from 'Family' - I'm not sure that this is necessarily correct, but as I say this is my initial thought process. It does make me realise, however, that I don't seperate my professional relationships from my personal ones as much as I thought I would, for example: I can see that some colleagues and employers are also people that I consider friends.

Since I jotted down that diagram in my journal, I have looked at the three examples on the libguides page - Campus Session Group 1, Group 2, Group 3, and can see how differently people have described their networks. My diagram seems closer to the Group 1 map, but I find the Group 2 mindmapping picture very interesting, as it takes the idea of the Professional Network out further by exploring  the how?, why? and if? I think this might be a good thing for me to do so that I can see how effective my engagement is with my Professional Network (Reader 3 - The Networked Professional p.2), and, therefore, how I can improve on it.

The other area I need to reflect on further is how technology, both existing and the newer skills I have developed, should be represented in my network. Yes, I use things like FB, youtube, email, and websites to connect with the people in my network, but I also use the internet to discover new ideas, articles, film clips, etc. Should it therefore have a bubble of its own?

I think it's time I got scribbling again!

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