How to Wander GovLoop…Without Getting Lost

J.R.R. Tolkien said “…not all who wander are lost…” and look where he ended up. I’ve always liked the quote and it can be good advice here on GovLoop. There’s a lot of cool stuff around. A chance detour can lead to good things that we might never have found otherwise. Or not…It might just be a time suck.

It’s worth considering how we can help make wandering better, because have a few experiences early on that are worthwhile vs. disappointing can have a big impact, especially for new members. Could be the difference between active use and lapsed interest. Over time, it might also contribute to a site that feels more vibrant or less. So, if people ask, “Is GovLoop really worth my time” we want to know what leads to “YES’s.”

Louis Pasteur – no slouch either – said “chance favors the prepared mind.” On GovLoop, I’m also finding that a little direction can go a long way. To get more out of the site, especially when you’re new, definitely explore but try not to lose sight of what first attracted you and what you really care about. Was it to meet new people, solve a problem, find collaborators, promote a business, share ideas, look for a new job…or just get more connected? To sum up: keep your interests in mind and let Tolkien & Pasteur be your spiritual guides!

So how’s your exploring going? Same here…some hits and some misses, but recently, more of the latter. It’s heartening to see what some focused poking around can turn up. No magic bullets, but here are some things and tips that may enhance what you’re already doing and help in hitting the mark a bit sooner and more often:

Getting more from good ideas and conversations. The GovLoop homepage has several windows in the center column that show new activity on blogs and forums and even on Twitter. It’s easy to browse and you’re probably already checking out ones that look interesting and reading the comments . Turns out, this is also one of the quickest ways to find people you may want to reach out to. Was it a good post or comment? A useful detour might be seeing what the poster is up to. Their profile probably has stuff they want to share – what groups they’re in, where else they’ve commented, other links they want you to know about – whether on GovLoop or elsewhere. As a researcher, I’ve noticed that once I have a good article in hand, I can just follow the references to many others. It’s kind of like that on GovLoop. If you really like someone’s stuff, chances are it will lead you to other info and maybe to other people that you want to connect with.

Faster ways to topics you care about. The GovLoop site may only be about a year old, but there’s plenty in the archives. You can dig into it easily. There’s a search box at the top of the homepage, but for better and faster results, check out this blog on searching GovLoop. If you want to see the most popular blog posts (or at least those with the most comments) a search on “mostcommented” can help pull up a lot of them. You can also check out the Best of GovLoop archive.

Finding people you may want to meet. Comments are great but they don’t catch the people who don’t say much. For a more direct way to find people likely to share your day-to-day interests, try searching the member profiles. Right now, the profile fields you can search on GovLoop include: name, title, organization, roles among others – all the stuff you filled in on your own profile page. That means if you want people to be able to find you more easily, maybe take a little extra time to fill in you own profile. The profiles don’t yet have a field to let people write about a favorite project they are working on, so no way to search this way now. I’ve mentioned to Mr. GovLoop …if you like the idea, bug him about it 😉

Joining groups with eyes open. There are a lot of good groups on GovLoop, but new users might also want to poke around here too. Some that look pretty cool from the outside are more like seashells…pretty colors but not much going on inside. Don’t just look at the number of members but also at the recent activity and whether there is any response to the posts people make. Any vibrant group will have at least a few recent posts and some back and forth going on. It can be a bummer to ask a question and get no response, so looking before you post can help manage your expectations. Your post might be just what’s needed to stir up a sleeping network…but if not, at least you won’t take it personally.

Contributing to discussions in different ways. I’m not someone who easily walks up to people in a conference hall. And even on line, it can be intimidating to contribute to a discussion, especially when you don’t feel all that knowledgeable about a topic or an area. Another way to get involved is to ask a question…one where you really care about the answers. Honestly, you’ll probably be making someone’s day. Someone who has been waiting to share what they know. Later, if you learn something new on the same topic, you can always check back and share that too.

These are just a few tips of iceberg. If there are others you use and want to share, please post a comment below and/or give a link. And if your having difficulty with something on the site, share that to. Someone who stumbles across this might just have a good answer. Cheers – Josh

p.s. New to GovLoop or this blog or both? 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, definitely let me know.

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Joshua joseph

Thanks for the comments, Adriel and Jerry. No doubt that whatever approach people find works for them is the way to go. One of the reasons for this blog was the feeling that some folks, particularly those new to all this “2.0 stuff” would lose interest early on because they just couldn’t figure out how to make good use of the site. Hopefully, hearing experiences and tips from others helps people become comfortable faster and helps them get more from their wandering.