Back when IEEE was formed, a “network of friends” meant those you saw on a regular basis, a “tweet” was just a sound birds made, and business connections were made at face-to-face meetings. But as the technological world has evolved, so has the way IEEE members network.
“Online social networks are the most natural and efficient way for people to communicate. Therefore, IEEE must be involved,” says Member Gim Soon Wan. As a past chair of the IEEE Graduates of the Last Decade (GOLD) Committee, his goal to engage members led him to Facebook. The popular social networking site lets users create their own profiles along with photos and personal information, and send messages to their friends.
Wan has created Facebook groups for IEEE, IEEE GOLD, and the IEEE Committee on Earth Observation. Since its formation in 2007, the IEEE Facebook group has grown to more than 11 000 members, with more joining each day. Wan sees the Facebook groups as a great way for members to interact and stay up-to-date on IEEE activities. Members post photos, videos, links to articles and other Web sites, and topics for discussion. They also use Facebook to send invitations to upcoming IEEE events such as conferences and online seminars. Some even use the site for recruiting new volunteers.
Most who join these groups are IEEE members, but membership is not always a requirement. In fact, with more than 200 million Facebook users worldwide, Wan says the groups are a great way to increase IEEE’s public visibility.
TWITTER, TOO But Facebook is not the only social networking site IEEE members can connect through. Many use Twitter to post tweets. These text-based messages of 140 characters or less are updated frequently with short news “blasts,” personal thoughts, or links to Web sites. For example, the posts are often used to direct people to new articles from IEEE publications. And IEEE publications also post tweets. IEEE Spectrum has two accounts for this. The IEEE Spectrum account is used for posting notices about articles, podcasts, videos, or blogs added to its Web site. The Spectrum Editors account lets the editors share with readers interesting aspects of their work, their interviews, the events they’re covering, and other tech news.
“Twitter at its heart is about building a network of people who feed off each other and further a line of discourse,” says IEEE Spectrum Senior Editor Harry Goldstein. He is also the Web editor and set up the IEEE Spectrum Twitter account. “For the semiconductor beat at IEEE Spectrum, an editor may tweet, say, about something heard regarding a dynamic random access memory lawsuit. Or maybe the editor has blogged about it and wants to alert people to the blog. Or maybe another editor may read a piece in the Wall Street Journal and want to get people’s reactions to it, so the editor posts an opinion and a link.”
STILL ANOTHER LINK LinkedIn, a networking site geared to professionals, is another way members can connect. Users can create a network with others in their field by adding “connections,” which build an expanding list of contacts. You can browse for people, groups, and companies to connect with in your industry or geographic location. Members can post and follow IEEE news and discussions in many groups, including “The Official IEEE Group” and “IEEE Computer Society Members” with 8000 and 4000 members respectively. Recent discussions have dealt with the job market for engineers, upcoming IEEE conferences, and members looking for others who play laser tag.
And don’t forget IEEE has its own social networking site, IEEE memberNet for members only. This online search and networking tool lets IEEE members connect with technical and engineering experts worldwide. Here, they can find peers who share a common technical interest or membership.