Networking, Part 3 – Social networking

Now, here’s a different story. I belong to a bunch of these, but I’m wondering what I’m missing.

I belong to Technical Writing World, which is a social group for tech writers of all breeds. (I’ve sung their praises in a past blog.) I’ve learned so much from there, and while I may not have “friended” many different people, I do know who’s who and when to listen.

I also have an account on LinkedIn, which is how I keep in touch with people who I used to work with (and value their input). I haven’t yet tried to “network” with other people, and I’m still figuring that part out. But I know who to listen to, where to go to get pertinent information, and I keep my voice out there. I don’t know if I’m doing it right, but at least I’m trying.

And I have an account on Twitter, and have tried to keep up on that (although not as much as LinkedIn). I still haven’t gotten the hang of the whole “tagging and replying” thing yet. I enjoy reading other people’s tweets, and have learned some things, but, again, haven’t tried the “networking” part of it yet.

And then there’s this blog. It’s another way that I’m trying to get myself “out there.” I haven’t met anyone through this yet, but it’s still new, and I can hope. I publicize each new blog post on the three above groups, and hope that, eventually, someone will read my posts. And respond.

What social groups do you belong to? Are there any ones that you recommend?

Networking, Part 2 – Professional Organizations

I’ve been trying to figure out what professional organizations I should belong to (and those that are ok to leave by the wayside).  As I’ve stated before, I’m really bad at this networking stuff, and need all the help I can get.

I currently belong to STC, and am questioning my need to belong to that. I don’t attend chapter meetings, as they are too far away for me to attend. I don’t go to any SIG meetings, as I can’t afford to belong to any. And I haven’t actually met anyone on there, so the whole “networking” thing is currently beyond me. So I’m wondering if my membership amount is worth it. I like the idea of being able to take webinars for a reduced rate, and have taken advantage of that a few times. And I do read Intercom online, but I haven’t had to sign in to read it. So is it worth the dues for a few webinars? (Also – I’m not going for my certification with STC. I’ve almost completed my Master’s in Technical Communications, and I figure that’s a better deal for my money. What do you think?)

And, as I live in the US, I don’t belong to any overseas groups, and don’t know if I should. Are they very different from STC? Are there any meetings that are here in the states?

I do belong to PMI, as I’m trying to get my certification in Project Management. No, I don’t attend any meetings there, either, but at least the meetings are in a city near me, so if I chose to, I could easily go. And, as I stated in a blog post before, it’s a way to show that I’m versatile. (Or, at least, I hope!)

What other professional organizations you belong to? What do you recommend?

Networking, Part 1

This is an area I need to work on, so I thought I’d start by asking everyone for help.

I am truly terrible at networking. I am so shy that it’s painful. I’m one of those people sitting in a conference by herself, watching everybody else talking, and wondering how they do it. If I go with a friend, then I’ll talk to the friend, but that’s it. I’ll talk with someone who starts a conversation with me, but as for starting my own conversation, I draw a big blank.

I try to be friendly. I try to smile and say hello. I try to look confident (when I’m really shaking in my boots). But all that comes of it is a big nothing. Am I doing something wrong?

Don’t misunderstand me; it’s not that I don’t like to talk to friends. If I know you, then I’ll gladly talk with you. And I’ve given presentations before that have turned out fine. I used to perform in high school – so big audiences don’t scare me. So if I know you, or if there’s a big room of people who I have to talk to – then I’m fine. But the individual one-on-one talking to strangers – I rot at it.

How do you do it? How do you become outgoing and friendly and talk with people? Is it something you’re born with and just lucky that way? Or is it something you can learn?

The next two blog entries I have are also on networking – the professional group aspect and the social networking aspect. Because they are both sides of the same diamond – just different facets.

As always, comments and opinions are welcome. I’m really looking forward to your help!

Other Certifications?

I’ve read elsewhere that technical writers ought to get some other certifications under their belt – if only to show that they can learn many different things. It’s also great to show their expertise in something other than writing.

I know some writers who get certifications in the software they use – so they can show their expertise in the programs that we use. Or a general Microsoft certification – I know some writers who opted for that large certification. That’s great for some people, but I find that I use whatever method I can to get the job done – and it doesn’t always coincide with the “official” method, so I’d flunk the exam.

I also know some writers who get certified in their career area. It’s wherever they have landed and would like to stay – be it finance, HVAC, automotive, biotechnology, or whatever. Again, that’s great for people who want to remain in one area and specialize in it. I tend to go to wherever I can get a job, so I haven’t specialized in anything. I’m one of those people who know a little about a lot of things, and I like it that way.

I’m currently going for my CAPM certification – it’s like the PMP (Project Management certification) without the people experience. Granted, it’s an entry-level certification, but I figure – no better place to start than the bottom! And project management is something you can take wherever you go – no matter what area you decide to land in. I’ll keep you posted on how I do!

I’m wondering what certifications you think are necessary or desired? As usual, comments and opinions are always welcome!