About a week and a half ago I was part of a panel on social media for Cornell graduate students. The goal of the panel was to respond to inquiries from students about how to use blogging, tweeting and other means of social media to talk about their research and how to use it to their advantage in creating an online professional identity. The panel was organized by Natalie Bazarova (also @nataliebazarova) for the Graduate School Office of Professional Development. There were just three panelists – Natalie, Dan Cosley (also @cosleydr), and me – and I found the panel to be pretty interactive and conversational. Since it was about social media, I thought it could actually be nice to post a brief summary of what was said. Maybe someone will find it useful.
We spoke mostly about our personal experiences and practices we have noticed by observing our colleagues. Dan made a point that using social media shouldn’t be thought of merely in terms of self promotion, but as another way of finding and engaging with your community. Natalie, focusing on opportunities offered by social media, emphasized them as another way to network and do outreach. I talked about the costs of participating and not participating.
It is worthwhile to note that we all agreed that today it may not be practical to distinguish between social media and other kinds of online presence. Everything is linked. So, we all talked more generally about online presence, rather than specifically about social media. The main takeaway points from my point of view were:
- Make yourself easily found
- Let others know about what you have done
- Find your community
- Make yourself useful
- Think of your online presence as an outreach
- Be thoughtful about the costs associated with maintaining digital presence
Below the fold you will find more detailed accounts of each point. You can also use the links above to navigate to the section that interests you.
The bottom line is that there are benefits and costs associated with maintaining your online presence, particularly through social media. It is important to be thoughtful about what you do and why you do it. There are many tools out there and it takes time and effort to figure out what works for you and how to integrate it in your mundane professional activities.
Hope some people will find this useful.
As always, you are welcome to add your thoughts and suggestions.