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.”
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?
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