This really gives me quite a good basis for writing this post since I was completely new to the profession and have now made many contacts and acquaintances after my year in Cambridge. So, to what extent did social media play a role in linking me with colleagues and getting my name out there?
I'll go through the different forms of social media and see how I used them.
As I said, I was using this already. I cannot say that this played a big part in my professional presence in Cambridge. I did use it to contact some of the other graduate trainees before we started so that we could meet up and get to know one another before the year began. For making contacts after this though, it was not useful. I don't even 'like' libraries on FB unless it was under duress.
I was slow on the uptake of Twitter but I think that it has been really helpful this year in keeping me in the loop with events, meetings and discussions. I did not often participate but it is useful to lurk and glean information that way. This is very useful in creating communities as I especially noticed at the Libraries@Cambridge conference where people were meeting up with those whom they only knew from Twitter.
This has not as yet been helpful for making contacts but it may be as I use it more and explore the different groups and networks.
Blogging itself has been a great way of making contacts and getting to know people better, especially as part of CPD23 and Cam23 2.0. Blogging was something that I never thought would be for me because I didn't think anyone would be interested in what I had to say (not that I think I am any more interesting now but I have realised that everyone has a similar fear so somehow that makes it ok).
I enjoy reading others' articles and commenting on things that I agree with or found interesting. I like the way that RSS feeds mean that I can keep up with the blogs but can read them when I wish whereas Twitter forces you to keep track all the time.
It is quite interesting to have this focus on social media since usually we are asked to consider how social media can be used by libraries as a means of pulling in students and customers but considering its use for professional development is quite a different matter. I would again raise the issue of the personal and professional boundaries since this is something that concerns me. If I consider how else I made contacts in Cambridge then I have to admit that a lot of it was done through face to face meetings. The many tours and visits that the trainees experience were invaluable in making contacts but I also attended many talks and lectures in Cambridge as a means of meeting others, especially those outwith the university itself.
So, I would conclude that social media has been very helpful in forging professional relationships but I don't think that it can possibly take over from physical interaction. What seems best is to have a healthy mix of the two.