If you are active in academia or the business world, you already have a personal learning network (PLN). Whether your connections are virtual or are people you talk to every day, you have a strong foundation to learn and grow with. As educators, we are all lifelong learners, and your PLN is already waiting for you. It’s the 21st century, and we cannot afford to sit on the sidelines and watch the social media world fly by.
Use social media and your online presence to help you identify your strengths, and then use those strengths to build upon your weaknesses. As an introvert, some parts come easier for me than others when networking. It is much easier for me to connect with a conference keynote speaker on Twitter than it is to get the nerve to blindly introduce myself when I see them on the treadmill at the hotel gym. Understanding the importance of building my PLN, though, and using social media to my advantage, has provided me with the confidence to step out of my comfort zone and make those real connections to put my career into drive.
In my world, social media makes meeting people IRL (in real life) more comfortable. Participate in Twitter chats, follow hashtags for your profession, and live tweet conferences. I love when you’re tweeting from a conference session, and you get up at the end to find the person you’ve been tweeting with sitting directly in front of you. You both get a good laugh, and are provided with a great conversation starter. Build off of that common ground and skip the awkward small talk.
Personal learning networks are an easy way to use your connections and effectively organize your interests to become engaged in online communities for continual growth. PLN’s are empowering us to work together to share knowledge and create depth in our learning. We want to share knowledge within our networks to not only strengthen our own skills, but to also strengthen our profession. The more people know about who we are, and what we do, the better!
Don’t be afraid to build your brand. You’re worth it.