A funny thing happened last night.....

It's 8pm. Hubby and I have just eaten our dinner. Do I watch channel 4: secret world of shoppers and learn how to bag a £12K Magnet kitchen for £5K (impossible) or power up my laptop, pay some bills and check my emails?  Of course I decide to do both!
In checking my emails I spot one from DPG communities. I'm feeling guilty as I haven't visited the site for a few weeks. Anyway I see Mike has posted something about an event: Using Social Tools to support professional development. Liking the sound of that. 
It's going to take place using Google Hangout. Now I'm curious as by chance I had a conversation with Colin Steed that afternoon about this via one of my yammer networks.
Then I realised it's happening this evening in 20 minutes!
Impulse takes over and I ping Mike a message to find out if any seats are left. The man from DPG says "yes"'.  Clicked a link, followed the instructions and felt pleased with myself when I get a message to say I had  joined a hangout. Hmmmm - no one else is there. Ok not quite what I was expecting! Realised I was in the wrong place - yes I am a smart cookie - and after a few more clicks, I suddenly found myself hanging out with 5 men. Now you're talking.
The 5 men were Mike Collins, Sam Burroughs, Adam Harwood, Phil Wilcox and Damian Farrell. I was quickly introduced and spent an hour or so hearing and sharing  experiences of using social tools.  I am a newbie so it was great hearing from seasoned practitioners and gaining reassurance that the journey I have been traveling is not unique.
One of the interesting discussion we had was about blogging -  something I had thought about, but never had the confidence to try. So it was interesting to learn the benefits Sam felt he derived from being a serial blogger: helping to reinforce understanding of a topic and attract useful insight from others, some of whom may be experts. I hadn't really thought about it in those terms before.

It was so lovely being with people with a shared passion who were happy to share their knowledge and connections. Phil kindly introduced me to someone who would be able to help me bring my colleagues on board and by the morning I was tweeting with them making arrangements to link up.
So what is a hangout?

It's a space where you can hangout with a max of 9 people via webcam. If someone leaves, someone can replace them so I suppose it's a bit like queuing for a nightclub but without a bouncer at the door! Mike facilitated the discussion but there was also a chat feed and probably other features, but I was too engrossed to explore.

Given this was the first event, it went really well. Only a couple of minor hiccups and one major one: My husband unloading the dishwasher midway could be heard by everyone, Adam's mobile phone suddenly emitted a signal which interfered with the audio which sounded like aliens were invading and I had to turn off the TV, so I never found out if they managed to bag that Magnet kitchen for £5K!
So if you ever needed evidence of the merits of social tools, here's one. To think I could spontaneously decide to meet with like-minded people in real time from across the UK, discuss ideas gain insights and make new connections - all from the comfort of my dining room table- well need I say more?  For someone like me who doesn't work in an L&D team, social tools are invaluable and have not only helped me keep up-to-date with what's happening in my industry, but has also provided a network that I know I can seek help from when needed.

Inspired by the blogging discussion, and with the help of my Kindle and Evernote app, I ditched the Metro newspaper the next morning and wrote this piece as I travelled on the First Capital Connect train to St Pancras. The process helped me to realise that it's not as hard as I imagined because  you don't need to be an expert - and trust me, I'm not! But blogging is about capturing your thoughts and reflecting on what you've learnt. And learning is something we do everyday.

So ladies and gentlemen, I present to you my first blog.

Look forward to the next hangout Mike. Thanks for organising.
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  • I will use this example over and over again Lorna as to how social tools can connect people, provide new ways to think and connect and do new things.

    Your first hangout AND your first blog. This is what makes doing these things sow worth it. Thanks for sharing and I hope it inspires others to get involved and do something new.

    I look forward to your next post :-)

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