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GovLoop and Being the Fly on the Wall

At one time or other, we’ve probably all wished we could listen in on a conversation or a meeting that we wouldn’t normally get to attend. Be a “fly on the wall” to learn what goes on and hear what gets said. Well here’s your opportunity…

Maybe you won’t get to hear how your boss talks to his/her boss about your promotion, but through the magic of social networking sites like GovLoop and Twitter, we can try out the fly on the wall thing in some pretty cool ways. One of those ways is to tune in to areas/fields outside of our own, that we’re interested in, to hear what people are talking about and wrestling with. What are they working on and what are they learning? We can find out by joining a GovLoop group or following conversations on Twitter. True, sometimes it’s pretty mundane or just not our thing. But the gems can be insightful and eye-opening.

Here’s the irony. When many of us come to a social networking site, the first thing we do…and sometimes the only thing we do…is join groups that sound like what we already do. If we’re working on HR or IT issues, we join the HR or IT group and so on. The result: if the ‘new’ people we’re meeting and listening to on social networking sites are very much like with the kind of people we already know, many of the conversations and ideas we hear will already be familiar. We’re much less likely to hear ideas and approaches that surprise or challenge us.

Whether it’s new ideas you’re after, new business opportunities or a new job, the research on weak ties suggests that you really want to reach out beyond your circle of friends and colleagues. That doesn’t mean avoid your buds, it just encouragement to add to them in all the easy ways that social networking sites make possible. A bonus will be that the new folks you’re connecting with will also be getting the benefit of listing to the new ideas you bring from outside their normal channels. A good example is a friend at the National Endowment for the Humanities who follows research in a range of fields to better understand the ways in which scholars are collaborating. He’s not a academic at all, but he funds and develops technologies designed to help these folks. If he just hung out with the techies, he wouldn’t be nearly as informed about how to make his efforts relevant to the groups he’s trying to help.

So give it a try…you won’t even need to grow wings! And share what you’ve tried in the comments.

And now for something completely different…I need your help. I started this blog with the idea of making it easier for fellow newbies to get their GovLoop legs…especially those without much experience navigating sites like this. The plan has been to share tips as I learn them and also draw on the experience/knowledge of more seasoned users. So it’s time to take stock. I’m curious if the blog is reaching both groups of users. But as a newbie myself, I know its not always the easiest thing to post a public comment. So here’s the workaround. There is a link below that I’m asking folks to click…please. It goes to the shortest poll I’ve ever done – just one question – which will give me a better idea of who’s reading.

Please click here for my one-question poll

Unlike posting a blog comment, the poll is ANONYMOUS. No one, including me will know who you are. But I promise to post updates on the overall numbers in the comments to let folks know what they look like. Thanks for your help and for visiting!

p.s. New to GovLoop or this blog? Backstory on why I started it here. The “greenies” blog will be a regular feature on the Go! GovLoop for New Members group. Would also like to open it up to guest bloggers. So if you have a good idea and want to write an upcoming greenies blog, just let me know.

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Profile Photo Adriel Hampton

Another great post, Joshua. Broad ties has served me very well in getting my sea legs in the Gov 2.0 community. And I’d say that even if you don’t see progress or value at first, persistence pays off.

Profile Photo Joshua joseph

Quick survey update. Looks like the blog is reaching mostly newer folks as I’d hoped but still being read by folks who are veterans of the site. As of today, about 75% of those filling out the survey said they are either very new to GovLoop (more than half had been on less than a week) or pretty new (about 20% said they joined in the last month). The remaining 25% have been members for more than a month. Thanks to everyone who participated so far…will keep the poll open to see what happens going forward, so keep ’em coming!