Are You Keeping Up?

Last night I posted about the idea that your employees using social networking tools, and gathering important information about yor business, your industry, etc. was a no-brainer. Today, I had a conversation with someone that really brought that point to home for me.

Not that we were having a conversation about social networking per se, but it was a comment made by someone who works in the Litigation Support field, albeit from a vendor perspective. She briefly mentioned “spending the weekend reading up on ediscovery opinions”, and as I reflected back on what I wrote yesterday, I realized that is the sort of thing that far too many people wouldn’t even attempt to do.

How does this relate to social networking? Simple. Building an online network, and creating the river of RSS feeds, Twitter, LinkedIn connections, etc. where you can get constant updates on important news, thoughtful insight, learn about upcoming educational opportunities and the like requires an active curiosity about what we do for a living. You simply can’t do this if your mind-set is one of working 9-5 and forgetting about your job other than those hours. That’s a production environment mindset, it doesn’t fit with the 21st century knowledge work environment that we live in. Certainly, litigation support, as a new and constantly changing industry is not conducive to that kind of thinking. You simply can’t keep up, let alone see what might be coming down the road, if you are only interested in doing your work and going home. It requires being actively curious about the industry, a hunger to continue to learn and grow.

Do you really think reviewing the RSS feeds I subscribe to, checking in on the big news of Twitter, and sharing ideas here and on other sites is something I could fit into a typical work day all the time? Clearly, it’s not. Sure, I do some of that during the work day, but typically I’m also spending many of my evenings with the laptop on my lap while my wife and I are watching television, browsing through my feeds or social networking sites for any important news or great thoughts.

That’s not to say I don’t put it away too. We all need our down time away from our work and out network. I wouldn’t begrudge anyone of that, but in this sort of competitive job market, do you want to be the person who is always looking to learn more, even if it means spending some time learning outside of office hours, or the kind of person who does what they do, and waits for their organization to tell them when to learn something new? I know which one I’d rather have working for me.

I also know I’d much rather take control of my own education and my own training too. Do you?

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  1. I used to believe social media was an excuse to waste time. Now I view it as a valuable information resource (still not convinced that Facebook is anything other than fun, though).
    I spend some time (not even sure how much time) every day skimming news feeds and interesting blog posts. You allude to the fact that we must accomplish this in addition to our “regular job” and outside of our “normal” working hours. I agree.
    With a family that includes 3 children at home, I balance spending time with the kids and wife with staying abreast of what is happening. I am still trying to develop an efficient routine for blazing through news and updates. I’m not very savy with social media shortcuts; but it is a constant learning process.
    I am amazed by how many employees believe it their employers’ responsibility to keep them informed of the latest technologies, industry news, etc…
    It takes time and hard work to advance.

  2. Bill, I think it can be either. Certainly, if you wanted to waste time with social media, you can! It’s pretty easy to use it for that, actually. But it is also a great source of good information that will help you in your career. (Even Facebook, if you work it hard enough, but admittedly I use FB more for social interaction, and keeping in touch. Even that, as a personal networking tool, can also be quite beneficial to your career!)

    I am also amazed by the number of people who simply wait for their employer to tell them when they need training, or when they need to know something new. That’s the quickest way to get stuck in a dead-end job. The organization is always going to be looking out for what they need, not necessarily what will help your career.

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