I was contacted this morning by Will Kelly, who is a Technical Recruiter/Account Manager in the Dallas/Fort Worth Area. Will is looking for educators who could be hired for eLearning course development, and wanted to know if I had recommendations for good prospects. He found me via a Google search, apparently, for eLearning and distance learning.

My recommendation to him was to try Linked-In. I only have about 35 contacts presently on Linked-In, but many of those people are other educators involved with educational technology and in many cases, eLearning. It was nice to be able to recommend to Will, essentially, “Please access my network,” rather than have to think on the spot about people I know who:

  • Have eLearning course development experience and interest
  • Are job hunting or open to hearing about job possibilities

I like Linked-In because it is a much more professional feeling network with a sharper interface than sites like MySpace, and because it’s specifically focused on professionals sharing expertise and job leads. It was designed to be that way from the ground up, I think. MySpace, of course, was never designed to be a professionals organization– it started as a way for start-up bands to share their music and connect with fans.

If you haven’t joined Linked-In yet as one of your social networks, I recommend checking it out. You never know where networking leads could take you professionally! One of mine (a face-to-face networking lead, rather than an electronic one, however) led me to my current educational role in Oklahoma! :-) As the old adage goes, what you know is important, but WHO you know can also be extremely important in life. Linked-In lets you specify how you want to permit other people to contact you, and the types of “opportunities” you are interested in receiving via the network. If you’re interested in hearing about new job offers or possibilities, you just specify that in your profile preferences. Then people don’t have to guess– they can see your experiences, interests, and whether or not you’re open to a new job or employment offer!

Contact settings for your Linked-In Profile

Thankfully, as Lee LeFever explains so well in his video tutorial “Social Networking in Plain English,” digital social networking is opening up many new, positive connections for people around the world.

The need we have for educators to understand the positive ways social networking is and can be used is something I discussed in the December 11th COSN/US Telecomm webinar, “Broadband Boot Camp for Educators.” There’s no better way to understand something fairly complex, like social networking, than by experiencing it personally in a positive context. There’s a big world “out there,” but personal connections and relationships within our world remain as important as ever. Digital tools which permit new types of connections and the maintenance of those connections (twitter is an example) are powerful influences on my life today, and I’m pretty sure their influence is only going to increase in importance in the years ahead.

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  • http://ed421.com Stephanie Sandifer

    Wesley,

    I found out about LinkedIn two years ago from a close friend who is a project manager in information technology (outside of education.) She and her colleagues use it constantly for connections and job leads (especially since so many of them are independent consultants and contractors.) It seems to be just taking off in the education field but when I first signed on with it I could hardly find any educators in LinkedIn. I don’t feel as alone anymore!

    I have also received a sprinkling of leads for jobs through LinkedIn, and I think it will continue to develop into a valid and useful professional networking tool for education professionals in the same way that is for IT professionals.

    Happy 2008!
    Stephanie

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