I can’t put a value on how important my ECM (Enterprise Content Management) network has been. Your network can be a support system when you’re trying to get through project hurdles, a reviewer for when you’re looking at changing a strategy and a source of a new opportunity if that need arises. Your network goes beyond your fellow co-worker. Your network needs to include those with whom you don’t normally interact. Think you already have a great network? Here’re two quick tests:
- Think of someone that left the company that you work for over a year ago with whom you had regular interactions. When was the last time you talked to them?
- Think of someone that you met in this field over a year ago with whom you don’t work. When was the last time you corresponded with them?
If either answer was over a year ago, you don’t have a great network. If you haven’t taken the time to talk to people that have left your company, do you think others will take the time to talk to you after you’ve left? We all know with almost certainty that a long-lost LinkedIn contact that suddenly sends you a message, is looking for a job. A real network is about regular interaction. Developing your network does take a little work.
Getting social is probably the easiest way to develop a network and there’s lots of opportunities to do so. Communities are probably the easiest. This is how I met Laurence Hart, a.k.a. Word of Pie.
If you know your ECM solution, join that vendor’s community. You might be able to help someone else who has a question. Every vendor has a community. (Hyland OnBase, IBM Content Manager, Lexmark, M-Files, Microsoft SharePoint, and OpenText). It’s a great way to grow a network without physically attending a conference.
When you’re ready to focus on the larger ECM community, look at joining the AIIM Community. There are local chapters and general on-line communities. Members are able to post discussions and even post to the community blog. If there’s something you’ve always wanted to share but don’t have the time to create and promote your own blog, AIIM’s Community is a great way to go. Using the AIIM blog as your voice allows you to focus on your message rather than how to develop an audience.
Ten years ago most ECM vendors had active local communities, but those have gone away. There’re still groups that meet locally at the industry level with AIIM. AIIM has 47 chapters around the world. Some are more active than others. These are great opportunities to learn about the latest trends in ECM as well as network with your peers. Some chapters represent cities like Chicago or D.C., while others are more geographically spread out like Florida or Western Canada.
Look for other local networking opportunities too. ARMA (Archivists and Records Management Association) also has chapters around the world. Meetups.com is a new place to find all sorts of local meetings. Some of the AIIM chapters have started using Meetups to build community as well.
Have you thought of other ways to develop or grow your ECM career? Please share them below.
This is a follow up to my article, “Own Your ECM Career.”