I signed up to LinkedIn yesterday. It was relatively painless and felt like something I ought to do. That was about the extent of what I had to offer in my blog post, so I signed in again this morning, hoping to find some inspiration around the site for my musings. But as I sat there, trying to think of people I know who might have an account that I could connect with - which seems to be what you're supposed to do - I suddenly realised that I had no idea why I was doing it! (apart from the obvious fact that it's part of the 23 Things programme). I'm not sure that I understand the concept of networking. If it's what I think it is - making connections with people, socially or professionally - I think I prefer to do my networking face to face. And even then, I prefer relationships to develop organically. When I hear about networking events my stomach clenches in dread fear. The pressure of walking into a room full of people I don't know and having to force myself to start a conversation is really scary (something to with the potential for humiliating rejection en masse, I think!). I know that some people enjoy it, get a thrill from it even, which is great; but it's not for me.
I an going to keep my profile on LinkedIn, and make sure that I update it when necessary, just so that I have a presence on what is becoming an increasingly popular professional directory (and that's the only purpose for which I can imagine using it - to look people up). Other than that I'll be a passive presence; I'm not going to spend any time searching for connections. I do believe that it's important not to work (or live, for that matter) in a bubble of isolation, that it's important to form relationships with people who can support you and be supported by you, to share ideas, solve problems and generally help you to do your job to the best of your ability and enjoy it too. It's just that by nature I prefer to go about this spontaneously, making the most of opportunities to connect as and when they present themselves in my day to day working and living.