Hi, AleX

first_imgThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License. Hi, AleX:I know you’re still divided about this whole social networking thing. Like so many professionals making the transition into networking, you’re worried about how these seemingly impersonal tools will erode your face-to-face relationships with your clients.Stop worrying.  In the long run, adopting these new media is going to make life better not only for you but for your clients.Aside from that, understand that the old ways of working and thinking are no longer going to be tenable in the future. That’s because the old communications order was plagued with bandwidth problems — bandwidth meaning the amount of data that can be carried from point to point in a given period of time.Until a few years ago when bandwidth was considerably limited, people looked to you and other formally trained professionals as information brokers —people equipped to provide them with the kinds of knowledge and insights they couldn’t find on their own.  It was pretty much a one-way transmission from you to them.Things are changing.  Millions of people, including many of your clients, are liberating themselves.  Frankly, they’re no longer turning to information brokers such as you for essential information.Looking at it another way, AleX, your clients are no longer clients in any conventional sense of the word. They’re using emerging social networking technologies to find information on their own.  In the process, they’re engaging in all types of discussion, sharing insights and providing valuable feedback.Simply put, they’re collaborating with other former clients to build their own learning environments, and they’re doing it without traditional information brokers.  These social networks are enabling them to contribute to fields that were once the exclusive domains of trained professionals such as you.That’s why, like it or not, you’ve got to get engaged, AleX.  You’ve got to engage because you’re otherwise going to miss out on these discussions.  Because you’re missing out, you’re not being exposed to many of the critical insights being generated by these new networks — insights that will influence your profession for years to come.Here’s another way of looking at it, AleX: You risk becoming a tortoise in a world increasingly occupied and dominated by hares.Not engaging with these networks is like exiting off a six-lane, high-speed Interstate onto a two-lane service road and driving at a snail’s pace.Yes, I know that as a professional, your work has always been built around your clients, working with them face to face day after day, sharing their concerns, establishing your bona fides as a true friend and champion of their interests.That’s not only understandable but also commendable, AleX.  Please understand, though, that this is not a zero sum situation.  Face-to-face networking will continue to comprise an integral and valuable part of your work in this new communications order. Now you can have it both ways.  Communicating with a wider circle of like-minded people around the country will provide you with a deeper understanding of your profession.By engaging with these wider audiences — listening, sharing insights and learning — you will expose yourself to a considerably wider dialogue going on in your professional field. In time, the deeper insights you gain from this new engagement will enhance your traditional face-to-face networking.Other professionals have cited this as one of the most valuable assets they’ve gained from engaging in social networks.While all of this seems a little bewildering right now, AleX, you’ve got a wonderful ride ahead of you.Enjoy every minute of it. In the meantime, listen, discuss and learn — that’s what this whole networking thing is all about.Author: Jim Langcuster This is part of the “Hi, AleX” series — advice to AleX NetLit about enhancing her levels of network literacy through day-to-day personal and professional social networking. AleX Netlit is a fictional persona created by Network Literacy Community of Practice to serve as a guide to Military Families Service professionals, Cooperative Extension educators and others seeking to learn more about using online networks in their work.More about Alex NetLitlast_img