For Aron: Email and Networking

>> Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Aron asked me a couple of questions: I just got my university e-mail address, should I use this e-mail differently from my personal e-mail and professional e-mail. If I had a choice between my MSN and university e-mail, which one should I use? Why is networking so great, it feels so phony? I feel networking is just another work for using people, what do you think?

Well, Aron, I don't know how you use your current emails, but let me tell you how I use my emails. I have a "family-only" email, a public email, and sixty or seventy work emails (OK, maybe not sixty or seventy but it feels that way. Just sixty or seventy passwords and I wish that was an exaggeration).

At home, I read my public/home emails indiscriminately. I can read both my work emails from home, but I generally don't unless I'm off work for a while (like when I was on maternity leave). When I give a family member/special friend my email, I generally use my personal email. However, when I talk to anyone else, register for anything on line, make a purchase, ask for information, ANYTHING else, I use my public email. Always. Because of my internet provider (which I've had now for like eight years), I can always dump the public email if it starts attracting disgusting amounts of spam or becomes unwieldy. I'll change the email on those sites where it counts and the rest will probably fall by the wayside.

However, I use my professional (work) email for 100% of my work related stuff. Always. If I have a professional organization thing going, they get my work email. Coworkers, colleagues, etc. work email. I keep that separate from my home stuff and I never use it to buy things, register (except for work related things) or for anything else that would attract spam.

Now, does that mean you have to do what I'm doing? Nope, but I have it specifically designed to have a sacrificial email and keep the others clean to use for special purposes. If you like that setup, you can use it yourself or you can do a variation that works for you.

As for the question on networking, well, it depends on what you're talking about. I know a large number of people who say, "I looked at your stuff - look at mine." And I do look. Once. I will keep looking, however, if they have something interesting to say. I will not if they don't interest me.

But there's another kind of networking. That's having people you've come across that have specific expertise or who can look at something objectively or review a novel or whatever. I have a network of people I know at work who have specific expertise. I have another at home where they have specific expertise. And I don't look at it as using people, though I do occasionally use them, for several reasons:

  1. No one ever is obligated to do anything for me. I ask. If they say no or it ain't their bag, I look elsewhere or figure it out myself.
  2. I'm there for them, too, whether they are there for me or not. If they need a reviewer or an ear or a bit of data on something, I do my best to comply. I make time and make sure they know I value them enough to make an effort on their behalf. No obligation. (And that's important. If someone only does something because they expect something, it means very little). Same thing at work. I know some experts, but I've been called in as an expert on some things. That's what makes the networking work.
  3. I'm smart enough to know I can't know everything. No one can't. I learn all I can, but, when I'm in over my head, I'm smart enough to ask for help, for expertise, for support. Not only is that the best way to address a thorny problem, getting the right minds on it, but I always learn something else in the process. And they often do too. There's nothing cooler than learning something new.
So, by all means, network. One word of advice, though. When looking for expertise, don't just call up an expert in something and say, "So tell me something." or wait for them to bring you knowledge. Most experts are, understandably, busy. Bring them questions or problems or scenarios, have them review work you've tried to do already, but make an honest effort yourself. If you start wanting your network to do your thinking for you, you'll soon find you have no network.


  • Aron Sora

    Thanks, I was thinking about giving out my university e-mail to my friends, but I'm going to save it for school work. You saved me

    I have no idea why network admins seem to love resetting passwords, but they love it. Plus, I think resetting passwords is unsecured because it forces workers to write them down, and paper is easier to hack then computers.

    I hate asking experts for stuff, I'm only a high school student, I can't give back that much. I can never repay the expert. Thank you!

  • Stephanie B

    Don't worry about being able to "repay" per se. Do you best. LEARN. No one got to be an expert without picking the brains of the people before.

    There's something called "paying it forward". Eventually, you will be an expert, too. And, when you have the opportunity to help and mentor someone who is looking for insight and guidance, you'll pay us back by being there for her or him.

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