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I created a Twitter account back in 2009. But shortly after creating it, I deleted it because I did not see a point. All of my “followers” were my “friends” on Facebook, so why did I need to hear information twice.
A couple years later, right upon my graduation from WMU, I created my current account @joshkohnert. Again, I did not see much purpose other than to “stalk” celebrities and get breaking news. I still failed to see what all the hype was and only made 10 or so tweets and 5 or 6 followers before I put it again on the back burner for the summer.
This July, I started my current position as a Graduate Assistant for Career and Student Employment Services. My mentor Chris Sell is an avid Twitter user and was able to drop some knowledge. Follow that up with hearing Ed Cabellon speak at a conference, and fire just raged inside full of optimism, motivation, and inspiration. Through actively using Twitter from July to now, I currently have made over 7,100 tweets and have a gathering of followers of 500. I am continually growing as a professional, and it comes from networking.
Twitter, like any social media, is still about building your network. Yes it still has lots of fun, quirky things to do like follow television shows and celebrities. With your network, you have to ask yourself, who do you want in it.
Of course I want my friends to be in it, but I wanted something more. After listening to both Chris and Ed, there is a definite ability to engage with others that share the same interests as you, and the best part is, they can come from all over the world.
I could go on and on about my personal adventure with Twitter, but I want to give some quick tips for using Twitter. These are strictly my own experiences/views and you absolutely have the right to disagree:
1. Don’t have two accounts – the Professional You and the Personal You. This could be an entirely new conversation, but long story short is that a.) To help get to know others, it is helpful to share some about you b.) The things that you feel the need to hide from others in your “personal” account shouldn’t really be on the internet period.
2. Go explore – Use the search option for keywords related to what you want your network to be revolved around. It can be interest based or profession based. By exploring and searching you can come across hashtags to follow and network off of.
3. Get involved in chats on Twitter – It sounds like a ridiculous thing, but by using the hashtag, you can actually have conversations with people. Some groups and organizations schedule times to meet and chat using their hashtag. In Student Affairs, the big conversation is Student Affairs chat on Thursdays from 1pm – 2pm EST using the hashtag #SAchat. That same evening is Enrollment Management Chat from 9pm – 10pm using the hashtag #EMchat. While I converse on both, I am personally more involved with #EMchat. I am a huge fan and take part in the Student Affair Technology chat on Wednesdays from 3:00pm - 3:30pm at #SAtech
4. Follow people and interact with them – Just like networking in real life, sometimes you need to start the conversation.
5. Have Fun – It is a great way to learn more about your profession, share your thoughts, and gain a new perspective on what it means to network with others.
Join Twitter so that you may develop your own network. I can safely say I wouldn't know what I know and be the professional that I am without my network. I have a long list of people I talk with on Twitter that I now want to meet in the physical world. If you need help with Twitter, feel free to comment below. Want to connect? Feel free to follow me and start the conversation!