On an E-Discovery webinar today, Browning Marean of DLA Piper was talking about the duty of attorneys to be competent to some degree with the technology they were dealing with, when he said the following:
“One way to get competent is to associate yourself with people who are competent.”
Now he was referring to vendors, technologists and other experts in the field that they could learn from, or lean on when they need some form of expertise, and I couldn’t agree more.
More than that, I’d say this little bit of advice works for just about any professional field or interest you may have! If you need to get competent with something, anything, find someone who already is and learn from them. On-line social networking simply allows us to do that sort of thing on a much wider scale. Now, if I have a question about something, instead of making a couple of phone calls, or asking someone I work with if they might know someone, etc. I can post my query to Twitter, which shows up on my blog, and on my Facebook, and a number of places that I don’t even keep track of anymore.
That’s a few hundred people, in my case, who I can ask a question of with just a little bit of typing.
I haven’t even talked about the benefits of interacting with all these folks and seeing their expertise at work, learning as I go just by reading the things they post about, or being connected to people in locations, and professions, that I might need some information about, etc.
Again, take all that stuff you learned about networking from business school, or law school etc. All that information about the benefits of having an active network, of the sharing of information and contacts. Now realize that social networking tools allow anyone to do that sort of thing, with a much larger reach, even if they are somewhat shy or otherwise socially awkward.
Imagine all the things you can “get competent” at with these tools? Why aren’t you?