A few days ago I posed the question on Twitter “Social networking a valuable tool for keeping pace with developments in the world of tech comms or just another time filler?” and was quickly shot down in flames by a fellow technical writer Gordon McClean with the response “”another”? Social networking has been about in various forms for 10 years. If you aren’t using it, how else do you keep pace?”,which was quickly followed an excellent article by Gordon entitled “Being Social“.
Now, my reason for posing the question initially was two-fold: firstly I felt as though I had recently spent a lot of time reading blogs, twitter posts, etc and secondly I got thinking about how I keep apace of developments in the quick moving field of technical comms. For instance, as a consequence of posts on twitter this week I have signed up for both an Adobe and Microsoft webinar…events that may well have passed me by in I wasn’t networking from my laptop.
As a freelancer, although time is money, I am lucky to define my own IT policy on accessing the outside world. If I want to spend 9-9.15am every morning catching up on events in my cyber network, that is my issue. However, in the past I have been (un)fortunate enough to work with organisations that have a very “black and white” Internet policy, which prohibits employees spending time on sites such as Twitter, LinkedIn, etc…in fact if you escape the boundaries of the company intranet, questions are asked!
So in this situation how do you keep abreast of current thinking? I always thought (naively perhaps) that I was at a disadvantage as a sole trader as all the ideas and progression had to come from…however discussions of late are beginning to make me think otherwise.
In brief, for me, social networking for my work is imperative…I’d still be stuck in 2005 (when I ventured out on my own) if it wasn’t for my colleagues on the Internet…but is it the same for everyone? How do you value social networking in your daily work – where do you think you’d be without it? After all 2005 wasn’t so bad…although looking back Robohelp and Word (the main tools of my day) were a bit clunky!