Figure 1. An illustration of my current personal network.
This week, I am tasked with creating a visual of my personal network as part of an exploratory exercise to understand, at least in my mind, humanity’s universal connectedness. I am a firm believer, even prior to this exercise, that opportunities to form new connections and relationships are virtually limitless considering how the world is increasingly connected via digital technology (Dron & Anderson, 2014). Even without digital tech, most of us rely on another human being in some shape or form, whether it be for professional purposes, health reasons, or companionship. Although many of us proclaim to be introverted, even the most introverted individuals rely on one another at various points in time, for various reasons.
As I mapped out my personal network, I soon realized I have far too many connections to display in one tiny image. Each time I delved deeper into one category, more and more connections became apparent. Accordingly, it became clear to me and considering I claim to be an ambivert who prefers time alone with my family, that even I have a larger social network than I initially realized. Go figure.
Overview of My Visual Network Map
Before I get into the details, let me first say that I created my map using Canva (n.d.). I started using Canva at the start of the MALAT program and never turned back because it is so user-friendly and efficient. I highly recommend using this web application if you like using customizable templates.
Most of my map is fairly self-explanatory, so I will spare the readers of redundant information. Overall, I tried to branch each category into specific individuals, rather than naming digital platforms or organizations (with a couple of exceptions). I already knew what social platforms and organizations I am connected to, so determining which individuals I am connected to via these entities seemed more rewarding as an exercise. If you’re wondering about my personal ties to “World Taekwondo”, I am a 6th Dan (degree) black belt in World Taekwondo and have been involved in the business and international coaching end of things for many years. Although I primarily work in higher education these days, my experience in the Taekwondo industry not only got my foot in the door as an educator but also taught me how to build and maintain a social network. Similarly, the “Fitness” category reflects my experience as a fitness professional. I started out as a fitness trainer to supplement my understanding of exercise science for our Taekwondo athletes (Olympic calibre athletes), which soon blossomed into educating aspiring fitness professionals on best practices and running certification courses and programs. Long story short, I learned a lot about international networking through the fitness industry.
In sum, the above visualization does not do my personal network justice, as there’s too little room to go into detail. At the start of this exercise, I was reminded of how much of a hermit I’ve become thanks to the COVID pandemic and I genuinely forgot that I had developed a massive professional network. A couple of weeks ago I wrote about how I’d like to build my digital presence again, and in a way, this exercise has reminded me that building an online community is highly achievable. Through this visual mapping exercise, I am reminded that the significance of setting one’s intentions to build a social network, and I mean really going all in to achieve specific and realistic goals, cannot be understated.
Canva. (n.d.). Homepage [Website]. https://www.canva.com/
Dron, J, & Anderson, T. (2014). Teaching Crowds: Learning and social media. Athabasca University Press. https://doi.org/10.15215/aupress/9781927356807.01