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3 Social Media Sites for Highly Effective ProfDev (in the Workplace and in School)

We all know that Social Media is an imperative today for Professional Networking. But many overlook social media as a key tool for Professional Development. For the improvement of individual, team, group, department, class, and institutional/organizational success, heighten the strategic use of social media to effective ends.

LinkedIn: The vast majority of individuals with LinkedIn accounts have not learned the ways that LinkedIn grows and develops professional networks. Like an electrical network, for the most effective use of LinkedIn, this means not developing an account and leaving it to sit fallow. Remember to follow others' posts and links, maintain your connections with them on a regular basis, and utilize posted LinkedIn resources for active learning, especially from posted blogs, shared resources, and other links.

Twitter: Many view Twitter as the social media domain for popular culture and entertainment figures. While this is true, it overlooks the powerful value of Twitter for information sharing, interactive chats, and professional development. Let me explain each of these:

  • Twitter for information sharing: A common error many make in relation to Twitter is in seeing the weakness in the hyper-brevity of 140 characters. This is short. Twitter cannot share the longer posts and blogs that can be found on LinkedIn or Facebook, but effective Twitter users can share links to longer information posts. The short Twitter limit heightens readers' attention to the brevity of the headline. With a well framed Tweet sent out on multiple occasions, you can reach more individuals with helpful links. The converse is also true. The brevity and repeat Tweets make it more likely that a Twitter user will see valuable links.
  • Twitter for dynamic professional presence and networking: The brevity and speed of Twitter provides a heightened presence for professionals that connects them to other professionals and to the larger public. In this way, posts are often related to the dynamism of the daily news and the speed of technological developments and global change. Each user's presence and networking is accordingly heightened through the dynamism and currency of Twitter posts and links.
  • Twitter for professional chats: In the educational sector, educators and administrators have been utilizing interactive live Twitter chats (often moderated with specific topics) for deliberative discussions for professional learning and development. In contrast to internal company intranets and other digital communications used for heightened information sharing and project success, the public forum of Twitter means that any professional communication must be appropriate and geared to a public audience. This opens up professional information sharing to the world and, done well, can provide valuable public relations for any organization or field. Additionally, by connecting with other professionals globally, Twitter chats provide a way for professionals in any field to consult about specific topics of concern, value, and relevance. Many teams in companies are cross-functional; Twitter chats provide a way for professionals within fields to network in collaborative ways through the appropriate sharing of ideas and resources.

Facebook: Regardless of predictions regarding the demise of Facebook as other forms of Social Media have been developed, Facebook is still the primary social media forum that most people use. Many overlook the importance of Facebook for staying in closer contact with select colleagues and mentors. While LinkedIn is the primary venue for developing and maintaining professional networks, many in your professional network will become friends and close mentors. In those cases, it is appropriate to connect with these individuals through Facebook and follow each other's significant life changes (birthdays, kids graduations, etc.). Unless you see a particular colleague or mentor in person on a regular basis, it is Facebook that will help you stay in more familiar (and appropriate) contact.

Final Key Takeaway: Strategic time management can make any person's use of social media highly effective. For most, a regular schedule works best. Most important is to remember to be active with your professional networks in effective ways that help you to learn, grow, and accept help from others while giving back as you reach out, share information and resources, collaborate, and mentor others. 

Tip for parents and K12/univ educators: Students need to learn how to communicate in effective ways. Sports teams provide invaluable teamwork skills, but every young person needs to learn the value of a lifelong culture of growth and learning that invariably comes from interpersonal and inter-group support. Social media is a key tool, and young people need guidance for its effective (and appropriate) use. 

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