Sunday cooties + ecosystems.

I love Sundays for 2 reasons:

1. The CBS Sunday Morning Show – I’ve been watching this since I was a kid…I always learn something, and it takes away the “Sunday cooties” (dread and general icky feel of the fast approaching Monday).
2. Brainpickings Blog – I learn about 10 things every time I read this blog, and I get incredibly inspired.

Today I was reading Brainpicking’s post on content curation and combinatorial creativity and it got me thinking about networking…this quote from Kevin Kelly especially:

“…We’ll come to understand that no work, no idea stands alone, but that all true and beautiful things are networks, ecosystems of intertwingled parts, related entities and similar works.”

I’ve never been a fan of the term “network”. To me it feels cold and methodical. Many times I get the sense from young professionals, that they perceive their network as something they turn on to get a job and then turn off when they have landed a job, something temporary…they don’t see  it as an ever evolving resource for growth, inspiration, feedback and guidance.

The term “ecosystem” really resonates with me. Here’s the definition of ecosystem: a system formed by the interaction of a community of organisms with their environment. I really like the idea of creating a professional ecosystem rather than a professional network. Ecosystem sounds more enduring, interactive, supportive and natural to me. Creating a strong professional ecosystem should be a daily part of life, because the more intelligent/amazing people in your field that you know, the more experiences you have, the more conversations you have, the smarter you get and the better you get.

I’ve recently recognized this in my own professional life…I’ve been building a professional ecosystem without even realizing it! I’m a career development professional advising (interactions) students and alumni (community) focusing on media and communications (environment), so by default, I’m surrounded by new ideas and concepts everyday as I talk with students, faculty and professionals about media (community, interactions, environment), and after awhile, as my expertise in the use of social media and career development grew,  I started to be asked to present workshops (interactions)  to local associations (community) specializing in media and mass communication (environment). Through these workshops I met new people and was exposed to new knowledge that grew my understanding and ideas in media and mass communications.  The more I interacted with my community in our natural environment, the more lasting relationships I built,  and the more I learned and got inspired. AWESOME, right?!

So…here is my challenge. Create a meaningful professional ecosystem for yourself! Who is or will be your community? In what environment do they live? How will you interact with them to share and gain knowledge and inspiration? And yes…being a part of a professional ecosystem comes with learning about job opportunities (I knew you were still thinking about that -ha!), but that combinatorial creativity and growth that emerges from geeking out with others in your field, is the best part of being in a professional ecosystem. To me anyways.

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