Are professional networking sites a waste of time for sport &
exercise professionals or a valuable professional development resource?
It's up to you...
There are many
reasons to engage in professional networking, particularly using online
communities such as iStadia.com, but one of the most compelling of
these may be the contribution that it can make to Continuing
Professional Development (CPD).
What is CPD?
Professional development is something that should be of interest to
most of our members - whether students going through an intensive
period of learning; professionals in training; or experienced,
qualified professionals. CPD as a term applies specifically to the
latter of these groups, and refers to the process of managing one's own
development and growth as a professional, but the content of this
article is pertinent to anyone who is interested in developing their
knowledge, skills and competencies in any field.
What is professional networking?
Professional networking (as opposed to the purely 'social' networking
that is offered by websites such as facebook) is the process of
creating trusting, mutually beneficial relationships that will
ultimately help you in some way to access new skills, knowledge or
opportunities. Professional networking is not, despite the availability
of social networking websites, purely an online activity. Indeed, it's
history is as long as any profession's! It happens through training
courses, conferences, informal conversations, and many other
acitivites. However, technology has provided the opportunity to greatly
accelerate professional networking, given access to much larger, global
professional communities, and made it easier to keep in touch with
How can iStadia support the Development of Sport and Exercise Professionals?
As has been alluded to earlier, by actively networking you can gain
access to new sources of knowledge, learn new skills and develop
The word 'actively' is important here. Think about this: If everyone in
a community gives something of themselves to that community, the result
is a rich body of knowledge and experience, that can easily be found,
and contact made.
With iStadia we are moving, perhaps slower than we would like, in that
direction - but it is happening both online and offline. I've
personally talked through client issues, shared ideas, and started
collaborating with people that I didn't know before iStadia. I also
regularly share referrals. James Bealerecently
blogged about his experience of solving a novel client problem by
asking a question on a club forum. He got the answer he was looking
for, and developed new relationships at the same time.
But networking isn't just about asking for help. It's no
coincidence that the motto and philosophy of Business Network
International (BNI) is "".
Networking is about sharing, too. Sharing knowledge, sharing contacts,
even sharing business opportunities. But let's focus on sharing
knowledge for now.
Within this community, there is a tremendous amount of knowledge.
Imagine if we could completely unlock that knowledge and make it
available to each other. How powerful would that be?
iStadia is designed, essentially, to allow you to share knowledge. This
can be done through blogging, writing articles, and through clubs and
forums. By sharing your knowledge, whatever that might be, you open
yourself up to new and potentially fruitful relationships. Sharing with
the community allows people to get an idea of what you can contribute
in terms of knowledge, skills and competencies, and helps them to
decide whether to network with you. But it also, of course, adds to the
overall knowledge of the community.
Case Study: Blogging Teachers
You might still be wondering what you might gain from sharing. You
might be sceptical that by giving, you will also receive. I came across
a really interesting blog that gave me an insight into the
possibilities for blogging(or
writing articles) and professional development. It referred to a
programme for teachers that gave them the opportunity to blog their
views and reflections on teaching.
Blogging brought a number of benefits to the teachers. First of all, it
was a reflective activity in itself, and therefore supports reflective
practice. That's where you benefit from writing the blog. Then, the
rest of the community of teachers benefited from the insights and
thoughts of the other teachers. Then, and here's where it gets
interesting, because the blogs are shared, there is further benefit to
the blogger, from the critical insight of others shared through
comments. Further still, this process helps people to feel more
'connected' with each other (in the human rather than technical sense),
facilitating further discussion and relationship building.
Imagine how powerful a tool that could be - a community of
professionals sharing in a reflective process, sharing each other's
lessons and insights, challenging and supporting each other.
Wouldn't that be great? Well, the good news that the potential is right
here at your fingertips. All you need to do is exploit it. You don't
need to write a thesis. A good blog can be a few sentences long.
Anything longer than about 500 and you are probably writing an artice.
But blogs and articles are also living documents. You can post your
initial thoughts, then go back, edit and develop them as your ideas
develop further. They are not set in stone, therefore they don't have
to be perfect?
What's stopping you?
Time? Dedicating a little time each week to sharing your
thoughts with the community might even save you time through the
connections you make...
Confidence? Just ask for help, and it's yours. Start now and
you'll get the hang of it - whether "it" is using the technology or
finding the words...
Anxiety? Of course you might feel nervous about opening up. But you are in control of what you share...
I don't know anything special? I'm sure that every member has
something to contribute, whether a professional, a business owner, a
student (you are probably never more 'up-to-date' than you are as a
student), an athlete or an exerciser.
Isn't it about time you started to share?