I'm into the second day of the 40 day course on Personal Knowledge Mastery, led by Harold Jarche. Our first assignment was to map and visualize our network, initially by completing a "Network Mapping" to identify people I most readily seek out for support, guidance, and insight when tackling work challenges.
While spending time completing the "Network Mapping" worksheet, as well as some of the other optional exercises designed to help one analyze social media networks, I observed the following:
- In terms of me doing my primary job (teaching), I rely on the same 3-4 people at my institution who are in my department (business school) to help when needed. We're about the same age and work in the same physical location.
- By and large, I work alone with little support or guidance in terms of preparing for classes, teaching, etc. My institution provides opportunities for faculty to gather to discuss topics of mutual interest. I attend some of these, and have even spoken at them. Outside of these gatherings, I occasionally have conversations about teaching with 2-3 colleagues I've come to know and like. These colleagues teach business classes, but not the ones I teach.
- I tend to rely on a small group of people (3-4) for advice/guidance on career-related matters. None of these individuals works in academia, or in business for that matter.
- I have frequent contact with professionals who practice public relations (as I once did) and teach public relations (as I do now), primarily through Twitter, a Facebook group, and my service on the Board of Directors of an industry professional association.
- In addition to public relations professionals, my Twitter feed consists of individuals who work in higher education (where I've worked for 14 years) and a mix of professional speakers, trainers, coaches, and consultants (roles I've also filled at different times over the last three decades).
- I was inspired to being to prune my Twitter feed, seeing that a lot of people I was following have not been active. In many other instances, I'm following people who followed me but for no other apparent reason.
Takeaways and Challenges
Jarche's narrative challenges class participants to ask network-centric questions (about what you're learning and who you're learning from) as opposed to hierarchically-focused questions (i.e., what do you do for a living). To focus on learning in networking never occurred to me.
I've also prided myself on having a broad, deep network (especially on LinkedIn), which I've used over the years to connect students with employers, recruit organizations to work with students in my classes, etc. I'd characterize such use as largely transactional. Knowledge creation and sharing has never been part of the equation, for the most part.
In short, I'm facing a sea change in terms of how I think about and practice networking. The timing is ideal for me to tackle this domain.