Thursday, September 17, 2009

Twitter for Fun and Professional Development

Twitter has a bad rap as a wasteland of useless babble, where individuals broadcast the bland minutiae of their daily lives.

I beg to differ.

Perhaps it's because my interest in social media began for professional—rather than personal— reasons, but this has not been my experience. Sure, there are people who post only updates a stalker could love, but then I don't follow them.

I have found Twitter to be a great resource for finding topical updates on a variety of professional issues (not the least of which is social media), networking with peers, and gaining an interesting perspective on the lives of community leaders (be it my dean, political representatives or megachurch pastor). The updates of those you follow are posted to your Twitter home page, making it easy to scan a variety of information at a glance.

And with a 140-character limit, who doesn't love a medium that forces writers to get right to the point?

Here are my tips on how to make the most of Twitter for professional development:
  • Good news sources: Start by searching for professional organizations, publications, consulting firms and bloggers (find me @davinagould) in your field.
  • Find leading personalities: Look for your boss, your boss' boss, and on up the chain. If someone has locked their updates, only ask for access if you're a personal friend or if they're following you first.
  • Curious what other IHEs are doing on Twitter? Follow them, too.
  • Follow people who follow you. Unless they keep tweeting about waiting in line for coffee, or don't tweet at all.
  • Check out who your favorite Twitterers are also following—it's another great way to find interesting feeds.
  • Network by retweeting updates you like (giving credit to the source) and by commenting on updates by others.
  • Attending a conference...or wish you could? Many conferences use hashtags (#) to develop a conversation through Twitter's live search function. (If hashtags aren't showing up as clickable links, make sure you're following username "hashtag.")
  • Monitor the buzz on your organization, industry and favorite subjects by saving relevant terms (including those with hashtags) to visit again.

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