#atozchallenge: virtual value

I often talk about the benefits of social media sites like Twitter.  Twitter has helped student affairs practitioners from around the world to connect, share and engage.  Before we had this borderless opportunity to connect, our professional networks were more limited and confined.

Now we’re only limited by ourselves and what we are, and are not, willing to do.  When I hear someone discount the value or usefulness of Twitter, I see that as a fantastic conversation starter and educational opportunity – especially if they are a student affairs professional.  I’ll ask them if they’ve ever been able to attend an international conference without leaving their office, or if they know where to look to find resources on the top trends in higher education. If you are trying to convince a non-believer to join Twitter, share your story.  Tell them what you have learned and how you have connected.

The time commitment and detraction from in-person connections are often reasons why people shy away from joining the Twitterverse.  Yes, social media can be time consuming. Setting boundaries and scheduling time to scroll through your Twitter feed are great ways to combat the “time consumption” fear.  And of course, what we do online should enhance and add value to our day-to-day lives and in-person interactions.  It’s pretty cool when you get the opportunity to meet a Twitter colleague in person, at a conference or other event.  The common phrase when this happens is “I feel like I’ve known you for years!”

It’s almost like a flipped-classroom model.  We meet and connect online, discover shared interests and then agree to follow-up in person (either via skype, on the phone or at a conference) to continue the conversation.  It’s also a great way to maintain professional relationships.  Liking a colleague’s post on Facebook or retweeting a resource they shared on Twitter is a great way to tell them “I like what you’re sharing and I value our relationship.”

social media mantra

As a final thought, I like this little reminder.  I call this my social media mantra.

How do you cultivate and sustain your professional network?  How does social media contribute to this? 

For more information about the a to z challenge, click here.

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ten thousand tweets…and counting

twitterTo celebrate my ten thousandth tweet, I wanted to write about the power of Twitter (and that requires more than 140 characters).  When I first joined Twitter, I thought it was for sharing silly updates: What I was eating for lunch, what my favourite movie was, or raving about my latest shoe purchase.  I actually left Twitter (well, kept my account, but stopped engaging) for 17 months.  It was a conference that enticed me to re-engage, and I am so glad that I did.

Now, with 10,000 tweets to my name (well, handle), I can confidently call myself a Twitter enthusiast.  If I wasn’t so afraid of needles, I may even go as far as having that little blue bird tattooed on me.  Why? Because of what Twitter represents.  To me, Twitter is all about connecting, learning, sharing, and being an engaged professional.  Who knew that a professional relationship could develop based on a single tweet? It is pretty incredible.  There have been many times when another student affairs professional tweets something of interest to me, and I’ve asked to learn more about it.  The response is almost always positive: “DM me your email and I’ll send you the resources” – “Let’s connect about this at the upcoming conference we’re both attending” – “Let’s plan a phone date to talk more about this” – and so on.  I have friends and colleagues from all around the world, and most of them, I am yet to meet in the flesh.  The reciprocal nature of Twitter is what keeps me coming back.

So, to those I follow, and those who follow me – thank you for making my Twitter community such an inspiring and engaging place to be.  I can’t wait to see where the next 10,000 tweets take me.

You can follow me on Twitter here.

If you are on Twitter, what do you get out of it? How do you engage with others?