Stephen Downes on Networking FinesseSince networking is not my strong suit, I was particularly pleased to come upon a post on Stephen Downes' blog offering advice that encourages people like me to do some rearranging of how we spend our time.
In brief, Downes "Seven Habits of Highly Connected People" are:
- Respond to other people's points of view. Downes comes down a bit too strong when he says "Posting, after all, isn't about airing your own views." Often, that's exactly what posting is about, but all the same, one should also take time to offer thoughtful responses to views that other people post.
- Fit yourself into the flow of the conversation. "When connecting online, it is more important to find the places to which you can add value rather than pursue a particular goal or objective."
- Connection comes first. Again, Downes comes on stronger than I would. He believes that connecting with people online is of such importance that doing things like reading books and magazines is a suspect use of time. I would never go that far. All the same, I acknowledge that making time for interacting with others is a high priority, not something you barely squeeze in among other, noninteractive activities.
- Share. "The way to function in a connected world is to share without thinking about what you will get in return. ... In a connected world, you want to be needed and wanted. This will, over time, cause resources to be sent to you, not as a reward for some piece of work, but because people will want to send you stuff to help you to be even more valuable to them."
- Read the manual. "Almost everything a person could need to know has been recorded somewhere online ... Taking the time and effort to look at this work is not merely respectful, it demonstrates a certain degree of competence and self-reliance. ... [W]hen you do ask for help, you can state what you've read and tried, and why it didn't work. This saves people from giving you advice you don't need, and helps them focus on what's unique about your problem."
- Cooperate. "To cooperate, it is necessary to know the protocols. These are not rules anybody can break them. But they establish the basis for communication."
- Be yourself. "The only way to enable people to understand you is to allow them to sympathize with you, to get to know you, to feel empathy for you."