Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Rethinking Networking through the Lens of Personal Knowledge Management (PKM): Reflections After Five Weeks

Since the last update about my experience in Harold Jarche's Personal Knowledge Mastery (PKM) course, I've done more thinking about the course content than actual hands-on effort in completing different activities. No doubt I'm resisting, at least a bit; that said, I'm attempting to integrate the course principles with what I've already done, what I currently am doing, and and what I would like to do (as opposed to what I need to) do. I'm committing to coming up with what's at least a first start on what Jarche calls a "sensemaking practice"--even if it's bare bones--and sharing it here. Stay tuned!

In the meantime, I've found the PKM philosophy seeping into my other work. Take, for example, a talk on networking I'm giving this Friday, May 21 on behalf of the Public Relations Society of America/San Francisco Bay Area chapter.  I completed a graduate course on networking, have read numerous books and articles on the topic, have taught it, and have attempted to model "best practices" throughout my career. Indeed, I wouldn't be overstating the case to say that I owe most professional opportunities I've had to my willingness to reach out and connect with others. Many students I've worked with over the years have benefitted from my guidance in this regard.

But the kinds of networking I practiced no longer fit my current professional (and personal) life. The relative isolation of the pandemic no doubt has largely inspired this thinking. As I think about the subject and plan my talk this Friday, I keep coming back to PKM's emphasis on learning as a social activity. Learning serves as the point of connection, in other words. That might sound basic to most, but to me it's a concept far removed from my prior networking activities. I'm now feeling that what I want to learn should inform my networking--not the other way around. As I enter the latest phase of my career, simply meeting people for the purpose of meeting people doesn't excite me as much as it once did (it still does, mind you). I best identify my learning goals first, and then align with them whatever subsequent action I take, and where I choose to direct my energies, whether that's on Twitter, LinkedIn, face-to-face, and/or in any other venue I seek out.

I know I'm attempting to change a lifetime of behavior when it comes to networking. I also recognize that the return to "normal" in the post-pandemic world will be gradual and uncertain. That said, I feel like I'm in the midst of a sea change in my perspective. I'll share more about that in the brief time I'm allotted this Friday, May 21. I invite you to join me then. 

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