Becoming Professional: A Blog

Posts Tagged ‘professional development

me and Paul Wycherley

Me and Olympian Paul Wycherley, another speaker

This past week, I spoke at the Huntswood People Learning and Development event about how to use social media professionally. My audience was made up of contractors in the learning and development field, trainers who work with financial services providers. For the most part, though they may have been on LinkedIn, they were not using social media professionally to aid them in their work. That’s where I came in. My job was to introduce them to the benefits of social media. In less than 20 minutes. I obviously couldn’t discuss everything, so I limited my discussion to profiles. And even then I still went over.

The thing is, profiles are not easy, particularly for those who are not avid social media users. After all, even those who do frequently use social media often get limited use out of their social media profiles. There is a lot more to a LinkedIn profile than merely saying your name and work history. Even Twitter can have some potential, even if you do not use the service regularly. As for Facebook, well, I suggested creating a Facebook Page. It’s just too tempting to post a picture from Friday night on Facebook, both for you and your friends. And those privacy settings are confusing. A Facebook Page just makes more sense here.

As far as first speaking gigs go, I think I did pretty well. I was the first guest speaker, and after me was the canapés, also known as dinner, drinks, and mingling. I was flooded with questions and personal stories. Everyone seemed ready to get started and redo their own online profiles, or put them up in the first place. That’s all a speaker can really ask for, isn’t it?

Here is the full presentation. A video should be on its way shortly from Huntswood, so expect that as well.

a gun around the word library

by BryanAlexander on Flickr

I love libraries. The idea that I can go into a big building, wonder the book shelves and then pull a random book and learn about something entirely new just makes me giggle. I love books. But these types of libraries are going the way of the dinosaur. We don’t need to go into libraries anymore. I haven’t since I was in undergrad doing esoteric research on corporate culture. For anything short of books published in the 1960’s, you can probably find all the information you’ll need online. And by now, those 1960’s books are probably scanned in, as well.

This reasoning, that everything is now available online, is what is jeopardizing the jobs of 86 Californian teacher-librarians. Basically, the schools are running out of money and need to get rid of something – and libraries are it.

computers in a library

by CCAC North Library on Flickr

The thing is, if they classify these librarians as teachers, then, as teachers, they will get all the rights associated with their seniority, and can’t be fired quite so easily as just delivering pink slips. They would be able to transfer to other positions as classroom teachers. So, the argument going on in LA is whether or not a librarian is a teacher, and the questions they’re asking seem to revolve around whether or not they take attendance or similarly nit-picky details that do not prove anything.

This reasoning misses the point of what a library really is, because libraries should be the last thing they get rid of. A library is not just a place where information is stored. It is a place where research skills are learned. I remember once asking my mother what a librarian did. She replied: “They teach you how to find information.”

When Seth Godin sketched out his view of the perfect future library, he said:

The next library is a house for the librarian with the guts to invite kids in to teach them how to get better grades while doing less grunt work. And to teach them how to use a soldering iron or take apart something with no user serviceable parts inside. And even to challenge them to teach classes on their passions, merely because it’s fun. This librarian takes responsibility/blame for any kid who manages to graduate from school without being a first-rate data shark.

student and teacher

by Wonderlane on Flickr (Not Bernier)

Well, Seth, this library is already here. Okay, maybe not the soldering iron bit, but that is what librarians like, Rosemarie Bernier, do. She teaches her high school and middle school students how to find information online, how to tell if information is useful, and how to simply access the web. For instance, when I was in high school, I participated in library clubs, including an anime club and a writer’s workshop.

Librarians help student learn how to take this wealth of information online and make sense of it. Yes, the tools are all there, and if you know what you’re looking at it’s easy. Not everyone can read between the lines and sense the bias in a CEO’s discussion of Global Warming on his blog versus an LA Times’ journalist’s discussion on her blog. People need to learn these things. If it came naturally then scholars would not be so highly regarded. Librarians teach how to be a scholar, and this is not something easily picked up in a classroom. Classroom teachers are already too busy teaching where to put punctuation. They can’t be expected to do everything.

And then there is that second function of a library as community center. A library becomes a place where people can learn not just about the mechanics of information but also about society. It puts the information at people’s fingertips, no matter their age, and then provides them a playing ground to practice what they have learned.

Yes, paper books might not be around much longer – not as we know them – but the library still has a place.

by Horia Varlan

By now, I think we’ve all heard of Quora. Most of us, after hearing about it, asked, “What the heck is it?” The response: “The new Twitter,” or “It’s like Linked In Answers.”  I think those responses lead to false ideas of what Quora is, so after playing with the site for a week or so, here are 6 ways I have seen that Quora is actually quite unlike either Twitter or Linked In.

  1. Follow Answers Not Updates Quora  may be experiencing a whirl-wind popularity growth, but it doesn’t really resemble Twitter at all. The phrase, “The new Twitter” creates a link that’s not really there. On Quora, you only see what your contacts do in regards to the questions. Granted, you can “Post a Message to Your Followers,” but it is not a highlighted function by any means. Granted, the people who originally called it “The new Twitter” probably meant only the popularity growth, but misunderstandings happen.
  2. No Painful Lonely Stage Another way Quora is not Twitter is that it lacks that awkward “now what phase” all new Tweeters go through right after they sign up. They don’t know who to follow or what to Tweet. Quora, on the other hand, immediately asks if you want to follow the people you are following on Twitter. You can build off of all that work you’ve done on the older platform and avoid that painful lonely stage. If you’re not on Twitter, or just adventurous, you can follow categories you are interested in. In this way, Quora is actually more like one of my other favorite networks, Brazen Careerist. You see all questions tagged in that category. Example categories include “Advertising,” “Anime,” and “Neil Patrick Harris.”
  3. by betsyweber

    Relaxed Culture This brings me to how Quora is definitely not Linked In Answers. There’s not really anything professional in the “Anime” or “Neil Patrick Harris” categories. I suppose if you were a TV producer you would have some professional input, but in practice, that’s mostly a fan space. This extends even to the more “professional” categories. The Quora culture is just more relaxed and laid-back. With LI Answers, everyone is trying to show off and vie for the coveted Best Answer recognition. This makes Quora fun and not a task you do for your personal branding. Or whatever reason you have for using Linked In Answers.

  4. Conversations as well as Answers Another difference with Linked In Answers is that on Quora the questions can turn into conversations. In Linked In Answers, you can’t reply to your own question. As far as I can tell, you can in Quora. You can also reply multiple times to the same question, making a conversation possible. It’s a big plus for Quora and I hope they don’t get rid of it.
  5. Lots of Responses Another difference with Linked In Answers is that questions gather answers in multiples of 10. In Linked In Answers, people don’t seem to want to read other people’s responses. Not so in Quora. I happily read what other people had answered, and I’m sure I’m not alone. Of course questions on Linked In Answers can’t really rack up that many responses. They close after about a week. Questions on Quora can stay open forever.
  6. Very Thoughtful The reason why I happily read what others had posted is that the responses are interesting and more thought out than those on Linked In. Not saying the answers on Linked In aren’t good, it’s just that people tend to get more into them on Quora, providing responses that often resemble blog posts more than answers. For instance, one question I enjoyed, “What life lessons are unintuitive or go against common sense or wisdom?” has 41 responses, many quite interesting. The ability to bump good responses up in the list means that you don’t have to hunt for the gems, either, like Digg with web articles.

So in the end, Quora resembles other platforms, but mixes them together to make something new. I’m actually surprised it’s usually only compared to Linked In Answers when there are so many other cool techniques it’s taken from other websites. Of course, Quora will change and grow. It might even just change and fade. They may get rid of the “Post a Message to Your Followers” function or make it more important. But for right now, it is very different from Twitter and Linked In Answers.

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Who Am I?

I am a Digital Native who is trying to puzzle out what exactly that means. I share my thoughts on social media, digital business models, and PR here on this blog.

I am currently getting my Masters in Digital Marketing from Hult International Business School, having gotten my B.S. in Marketing from Arizona State University. Everything is on track and I am making headway towards my dream: World Domination... or being a productive, helpful citizen and marketer. Whichever comes first.

Don't hesitate to get in touch. I Tweet daily at @KateDavids and also have a science fiction and fantasy blog ( and Twitter (@Masked_Geek).

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