Following the Nonprofit Technology Network Conference ( #09NTC )

April 26, 2009 § Leave a comment

At the very moment I am writing these words, the 2009 NTEN conference is getting underway in San Francisco. While I am very jealous of all of my friends who are there, I will be attending virtually from Chicago.

NTEN is a wonderful resource for nonprofit professionals, and the conference (though I have never been) is a great networking and learning opportunity. Luckily for those of us who can’t be there, we can network from here, connecting to people via Twitter and others who are liveblogging.

There are a number of ways to follow the conference sessions, which can be found here. Even if you can’t tune in live for the podcasts and vidcasts, some of the sessions will be available after the conference.

I heard recently that when you are seeking professional development opportunities that you should connect with people who are not like you, who have different strengths, perspectives and skill sets. This seems like good advice whether it’s personal or professional growth that you seek. I’m grateful to NTEN for helping to make this possible through technology tools. It’s an incredible resource and opportunity for cross pollination of ideas.

Inspiring Career Building Resources

April 12, 2009 § Leave a comment

Finding Wisdom and Opportunity Trough Information Tools and Social Networks

Inspired by people I have encountered who are using technology tools to do good works and create positive social change, I created this blog. As is usually the case with my creative process, I wasn’t entirely sure where this would lead me.

Out of an interest in gathering and sharing information and adopting new tools and methods of gathering and sharing information, I have slowly built an online identity and network. People that I connect with via online tools are in a variety of professions supporting all kinds of organizations. Many are fundraisers, like me. Some are librarians, civil rights activists, volunteers, journalists, bloggers, programmers, environmentalists, or some cross section of all of those.

I explore these tools and meet people who share my interest in using technology tools to build community and create opportunities for social action. All of this has had and indirect connection to my daily work as director of a prospect research shop for a major university, though occasionally I encounter tools and resources that I can bring to the office. For the most part, however, I have regarded this as a personal interest.

In the last two weeks, the professional functionality of my online exploration has come to fruition. Since finding myself unexpectedly in a job search, I have the opportunity to integrate the personal with the professional as I am wont to do. I am glad that I invested the time in creating my online presence, and I am grateful to my friends and colleagues who have encouraged me to do so.

For the first time, I included my blog on my resume. In getting the word out about my job search I have received communications of encouragement and opportunity through Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and this blog, and I am actively networking through these tools to meet people and to connect others whom I know are like me seeking opportunities. I have found even more resources for professional development and career exploration:

I know the potential of information technology and social networks, and the intersection of the two is where creativity and inspiration generate knowledge, wisdom, and action. I find myself with the unique opportunity to learn new applications for the technology tools I have been exploring and for the skill set that I have acquired over my career as an information manager in the fundraising world. While unemployment is not a situation that I wished for, I am excited about the new road that I am on.

Working the Network

March 29, 2009 § Leave a comment

Over my career, I have established quite a professional network. During the past two years or so, I have been able to apply online tools to stay in touch and manage my connections. This was fun a fun way to get in touch, but I always thought in the back of my mind that some day I will really need these tools for professional advancement.

Lo and behold, my department is being restructured, and today I find myself unexpectedly in search of employment. There’s no time like the present to see what LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter can do for me. So far, by day five since learning the news, the networks have mostly been useful for getting the word out and for friends and colleagues to offer encouragement and advice, for which I am exceedingly grateful.

The HR manager in my department encouraged me to get on LinkedIn and connect with people there. That is where recruitment is happening, she told me. Indeed, I have been reaching out to people there, finding professional groups to join, and searching for jobs.

Through my exploration of LinkedIn, I stumbled upon the Ning group for nonprofit professionals, the NP Forum. They are on Twitter and have a group within LinkedIn. There’s also Nonprofit Orgs, who is on Twitter, too.

Who knows? Maybe this blog will lead me to my next great opportunity. Hopefully there is a fundraising organization out there in Chicagoland that is looking for the perfect person to help build institutional memory and help track relationships with information technology. But I digress.

I hope to have a happy story here soon about social networking tools that will give courage to other job seekers out there. In the meanwhile, I take heart in hearing about other success stories.

Be the change that you want to see in the world

August 28, 2008 § 4 Comments

Britt Bravo recently started a Ning site for Change Bloggers, and here she asks the question: Are we BEING the change?

By creating blogs and participating in the onling social networking community of folks who are trying to make a difference in the world, does it make a difference? Good question. I think I’ll ponder and post an answer. Care to join the community?

Web Activism

August 25, 2008 § Leave a comment

Gosh, it is hard to keep up! Last year I participated in Blog Action Day. Just within the last couple of months I have learned of three other similar blog days where bloggers all over the world will promote something on the same day. Britt Bravo over at Have Fun, Do Good blogged about all of them earlier this week. So social capital bloggers everywere, mark your calendars:

  • Blog Day, August 31, 2008 – Promote five new blogs that you think are cool and rather unknown (I had better get busy!).
  • One Web Day, September 22, 2008 – Write about online participation in democracy.
  • Blog Action Day, October 15, 2008 – Blog about poverty.
  • Bloggers Unite, November 10, 2008 – Support Refugees United, a nonprofit that helps refugee families reunite and relocate.

Now spread the word!

FriendFeed NPTech Room

June 4, 2008 § Leave a comment

I am remiss for not posting this earlier (not that anyone is reading this blog yet). Johnathon Coleman created a room in FriendFeed for nonprofit technology professionals. He and Barb Kantor have been working together to get people talking to each other and sharing resources.

It’s working!

I, of course, haven’t had the time to participate much yet, but I am finally starting to get FriendFeed. I have already stated here that I have been seriously underutilizing it. No more! I thought it was just a simple aggregator, collecting stuff that I’m putting out in the world in my various social networking platforms in one place. Okay, that’s cool, but you can also use it as a forum to talk to people. There is talk of it possibly replacing email listserves because it makes it so easy. I’m not quite convinced on that front, but its still cool.

I’m so excited that I figured out what Imaginary Friends are for! You can still follow people who don’t use FriendFeed. What a fantastic idea.

However, if you want to join the conversation, you have to join FriendFeed. I highly recommend it.

Techneophyte

May 31, 2008 § Leave a comment

Before this week, I wouldn’t have used this term to describe myself. Nor would most who know me. I know I don’t know every tech tool that is out there. Every day I work with online reference tools to do my job, and I’m pretty well up to speed with what I think are the best available.

This week, however, I’ve been put in my place. And I’m good with that.

I’ve been at home this week, which has afforded me the time to work on an article I am writing about the use of information technology by nonprofits and movements for social change. I pitched this article to an industry rag thinking that I have some expertise to bring to the subject. And don’t get me wrong, I do. My experiences this week have just put that into a little perspective.

It just so happens that this week was the big launch of the Nonprofit Commons, NetSquared‘s presence in Second Life. I figured this was an absolute coup for me! I have just started dabbling in Second Life (I think I’m outing myself here), so this was really a perfect event for me to meet people and find out what they are doing with tech tools.

Unfortunately, family business prevented me from being able to see much of the mixed media panel discussion, which was taking place simultaneously in RL (real life) and SL (Second Life). I arrived pretty much about half way through the panel, and it took me most of the rest of the time to fix my preferences so that I could hear the speakers. I was indeed able to meet some folks who were all very interesting and eager to talk to me. At that point, however, there was so much going on around us that I was a little overwhelmed. There were so many people around us, I couldn’t keep track of the local chat. Following the thread of a conversation was almost impossible. I could instant mail to individual people, but I wound up having about five simultaneous conversations that didn’t amount to much substance. In the end, I made contacts and will set up interviews with these folks later.

I stuck around there as long as I could. There were live musicians performing remotely via their avatars. Much to my surprise, they were really good! But there were tons of people around, which caused a lot of “lag,” meaning that I couldn’t really move. It was like one of those bad dreams where you’re stuck in slow motion trying to cross the street as a car fast approaches, only without the car. I was stuck and frustrated. I couldn’t move around to find other people to talk to, which was why I was there.

All of that wasn’t what made me feel like a neophyte, though it didn’t help. I understand that these problems are common in SL, and I’m not experiencing them just because I’m a newbie.

What really made me feel behind the times were all of the conversations around me that I couldn’t possibly take part in. They were all about scripting and building things, and then people were surprised that I hadn’t heard of Sloodle (which is, duh, the SL version of Moodle — which I, ahem, hadn’t heard of, either — Sarah Conner blushes).

Anyhoo, I have a lot to learn, which I think is actually a good thing. One of my new contacts pointed out that that will probably work in my favor for this article. And I thought about that later in the context of this blog. I’m really not a techie, but a tech user. If I can help to translate what’s useful about these new technology tools and ultimately help other neophytes be more productive and more connected to the nonprofit community, then I guess that is what I have to contribute to the NPO technology conversation.

Twitter: My New Obsession

May 28, 2008 § Leave a comment

So, I’m finally figuring out what to do with Twitter and why it is so cool. I got into it because I’m writing an article about how people are using technology to create and promote social change movements, and I wanted to see for myself how people were using it.

I started following some of the contacts that I have made through Ma.gnolia, I’ve stumbled upon some friends and random acquaintances, and there are several business, nonprofits, and news agencies who are also Twittering.

The greatest example for me of Twitter’s usefulness, I think is NetSquared. This is an organization that helps nonprofits use technology, and they are hosting a conference in San Jose now. I have been able to keep up with what’s happening there with their tweets. They also have a FaceBook page and a website with conference updates, but the tweets are like a play-by-play, informing its followers of the most recent updates to the website of the flickr page.

People talk to each other, too, asking for or offering help and advice, sharing links and information, just putting themselves out there to see what comes back. Or sometimes just to share a little pearl of wisdom or a moment of inspiration, or a good joke.

So, Twitter has been around for a while now, and I’m not the first to review this tool. I have nothing to say here that is revolutionary to anyone who is already using it, but for me it is a revelation! I have a new way to communicate with people doing interesting things. In the couple of days that I’ve been using it, I’ve found some new blogs to read and come across some great resources. I may even have made a couple of friends. Who knows?

One thing that occurs to me as I write (and I’ve been thinking about this a lot regarding all social networking tools) is that the tools are only useful if lots of people use them. There are exceptions, of course, but isn’t the point of social networking to be social, to network? The tools that I use regularly are the ones that lots of other people use, like FaceBook and Ma.gnolia. I’m not saying that functionality isn’t important (and believe me, I’ve already learned the Twitter doesn’t always function), but Twitter just wasn’t interesting to me at all when I wasn’t connecting with anyone. Now that I am networking, it is my new obsession.

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