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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, 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

one's contacts.!!


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?


Here are a few different examples, from Amanda Owens, Mark Helme and David Harrison.


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?






Rob Robson

Co-founder, sports community | fitness & sports jobs | olympic news



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