FE Technicians on LinkedIn

LinkedIn Groups aren’t something I’ve payed much attention to until recently. During conversation with our Marketing Manager, I noticed how much activity there was in some LinkedIn marketing communities, which started me wondering if I was missing a networking opportunity. So last week, for the first time, I setup a LinkedIn Group for FE Technicians. This follows a great meeting during the half-term break of a few network technicians, keen to find some support in networking with those in similar roles.

Today at the JISC RSC South East Moodle user group, I took the opportunity to mention our meeting, and the desire among a number of staff in the area to join a group on a regular basis. My plug seemed to go down rather well – even getting a chuckle when I suggested it may be opportunity for those who “don’t get out much” to get involved! It was great to spend a few minutes after the meeting had wound up discussing the idea and possible subjects for conversation with some staff from other colleges who hold a variety of different roles.

Over lunch while talking about the value of networking, SharePoint vs Moodle, and the influence of staff skills upon the implementation and evolution of ILT Strategy (among other things), TeachMeet came into the conversation. I mentioned to a colleague that a TeachMeet is a great way to get some quick fire inspiration from others. Best of all, that inspiration comes from those in similar roles, sharing aspects of success and how challenges have been overcome – a very positive approach is taken in all TeachMeet’s I’ve attended in Hampshire.

So, if we’ve already got a great TeachMeet community, is there similar merit for a similar (but subtly different) group: TechMeet? And if there is merit in the idea, is there sufficient demand in order to sustain this for more than one meeting?

I hope so, but there do appear to be some challenges.

In many organisations, the value of networking has yet to be discovered at all levels. Many managers do not encourage networking enough (if at all). I am regularly reminded by my own colleagues that one of the best experiences they had was participating in the events we hosted as part of Becta’s Technology Exemplar Network. We were required to host a number of meetings on campus, inviting the organisations we were partnered with to come along and informally share best practice. In one instance, this included a couple of hours during which technical staff spent some time together talking about all manner of different subjects that meant most to them. There’s the important part: it was most meaningful to them (not to anyone else, least of all someone else who might have otherwise set an agenda). What’s more, it turned out to be a reciprocal experience, with all parties benefiting.

Once you get out of the office, it’s important to keep working on those connections. For the most part, that means going to the event again. Better still, go to a different event. I now have a habit of going along not only to events in my region, hosted and / or facilitated by organisations with whom I am connected, but also to events in other regions, or for other (related) sectors. The breadth of perspective this gives me is incredibly valuable. Just as you can be insular in your work within a single organisation, so too can your small network be insular among a global community. By stretching your network beyond regional boundaries and working with a broader range of individuals and organisations, you have the potential to be more than just a contributor, and become in influencer.

Finally (I think), you must do something with all those things you have learned about. There’s really no point embarking on a networking experience if you aren’t prepared to take some action for yourself. It doesn’t need to be a decision that you take at the outset, but if you aren’t coming to this conclusion fairly quickly, have another think about why you are networking. Is networking making a difference to you, or to your organisation? Take some time also to consider the quality of the network with which you are engaging; be critical of the network value. Is the network providing you with valuable knowledge? Should the network be challenging you more?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Let\'s make sure you are human * Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.