15 April, 2007
Dear Sir or Madam
In my view only about 5% of all Internet users are Internet Literate. Even some people who claim 10 years "experience" remain in practice disconnected from other people, and know very little. I encourage you to join the small group who are well connected.
I have a long history in helping people to get established online. Read my Ryze guestbook for last year (2006 - 07) to get an idea what people are saying about my role as a Network Ambassador. You might note from the names that many of these people don't speak English as a first language. People across the world see opportunity in being able to talk directly to strangers. Allow me to be useful to you too. Write to me.
Communities of Practice
There is a simple principle to all learning. We learn from other people, and we learn best from people who are like ourselves. I expect that as an experienced person you have joined and used listserv's for a long time. You may not have thought of them as a "Community of Practice". These groups have expertise and a shared knowledge base, and are engaged in some activity of common interest.
Join social networks
There are hundreds of online social networks, but I don't want to confuse you. I'm going to mention only five, and I'll leave you to sort out if you should join some more.
LinkedIn is a very strong business network with excellent search facilities. I expect you are already a member. Having a LinkedIn profile is a sensible and practical thing to do. LinkedIn Answers is also proving to be a very useful business and educational tool.
I suggest you begin in the networking directory of this site. There is a lot of information there. Far more than you need now. Over time try to educate yourself, nobody else can do that, it's your own responsibility. If you need help, feel free to ask me.
As a Network Ambassador, there are two problems I find with people who are apparently "experienced". First, that they simply don't have enough connections or friends. One needn't go overboard, but if you have 20 or 30 connections on LinkedIn there is a good chance being "found" by someone who needs you. The mean number of connections on linkedIn is less than 5. Almost invisible to the network.
Secondly too many people don't read network mail and never actively participate by posting themselves. You learn by a process of engagement. You get out what you contribute.
- These benefits occur for people who are engaged in COP's and Social Networks
- One's personal knowledge grows.
- One learns which members of the group are respected and why.
- It's possible to develop a connection to the top people in your industry or profession.
- By participation in the discussions yourself, your own learning rate more than doubles.
- People who began as quite timid and tentative, become confident and outgoing.
- People who have worked hard, become knowledgeable and authoritative in their own right.
- People develop leadership qualities that were previously hidden.
I've seen people transformed on Ryze. Some of you will have seen this same process inside another organization I've been part of for many years, Toastmasters. Everybody needs this sort of experience. I do wish you well on your own journey.
John Stephen Veitch
Director, Open Future Limited
Network Ambassador, Educator and Trainer
Telephone +64 3 352 8372
Mobile +64 21 0533661