If you aren’t on twitter yet, this is the perfect time to get started. Now that a lot of us are grounded in some shape or another.

Here is what twitter can do for you. The techy bits are at the end as some of you are probably already lurkers… So stop lurking and join in:

Quick input and advice in a volatile environment

Twitter is buzzing with advice and tips for “how to take things online” right now (if L&D is your jam), and there are probably lots of equivalently helpful conversations in other domains (like cooking tips for a lockdown larder https://twitter.com/search?q=%23jackmonroeslockdownlarder etc — highly recommended). I also try and enjoy helping others out with information where I can (the “social” bit of social media…). Twitter chats are great to broaden the network in these fields and to have touch points of professional self-reflection each week.

Rub shoulders with experts

I probably need a new metaphor in the age of social distancing. But you get the drift.

Yes, not all folks cropping up on twitter are experts, but a lot of them are, and they are generously contributing. These might be the people you’d pay conference fees to see normally, so get yourself into the conversation. It’s a bit mad out there right now and following useful folks helps to separate the signal from the noise. Advice you get here allows you to cut through painful learning curves (particularly when it comes to anything tech).

Following a range of people helps triangulate some of the noise of people selling their own solution which might or might not fit your problem. Don’t just follow the big names. A lot of people do excellent stuff that doesn’t make it to the bit stage (yet). Respect practitioners as you would like to be respected. Amplify the good stuff so others can benefit, too.

Twitter also allows you to virtually hang out at conferences virtual gatherings and see what folks talk about (also a good filter who has something relevant to share). A great way to quickly get a feel for what people talk about without making trend-scouting a full-time thing.

Thought leadership from a big range of fields

If L&D is your jam, why not tap into conversations in related disciplines (e.g. leadership, design thinking, UX, tech, entrepreneurship, innovation, education etc). This is to expand the bubble and allows you to shuttle insights and tips across. This is key to start sensing trends early, and that requires casting a wider net to get some more dots to connect.

Be open. You don’t know yet what that bit of information is going to do with all the other bits about to come over the next weeks. Some of this will fall into place someday, most of it doesn’t, and that is OK. Practice non-attachment and stay open. Life works better that way and so does twitter 😊

Remember when live conferences were a thing? I wrote this about attending via twitter, a lot of this is also valuable for the many excellent online events that are now cropping up. https://christinelocher.me/2019/11/19/how-to-attend-a-conference-you-cant-go-to-sort-of-at-least/

Community

Find people you gel with. You’ll see if their posts resonate, and you see what doesn’t. Don’t just follow people you 100% agree with, stretch yourself a bit if you can. Twitter is great to find people, to get to know them a bit electronically, before possibly meeting up at an event, or connecting a bit more. I made friendships that way, I had dates, and plenty of business connections. Both L&D twitter and New Work twitter are very sociable (and I love Beer Twitter for obvious reasons), and people look out for each other. And while it might be nice to all meet up in the local pub, we might not all have the same local or we might be grounded for a bit, so this is the second best thing. Use it.

Currently as we are all grounded, there are plenty of fun activities that people propose, and gatherings of like-minded individuals. I have learned Sea Shanties, lost deplorably at a pub quiz, found my calm in meditation, shared poetry and gotten and shared a ton of advice and pep talks. In times like these, it is and can be truly social. So get in there!

Level the playing field and apprenticing virtually

Who is in whose league works differently on twitter. That is a good thing. There are a lot of humans on here, and they actually show up as humans. On twitter, you can be a member of a club that wouldn’t accept people like you as members — or you can at least be in on the conversation (as far as it plays out on social media).

If I want to (and I do), by following them I can have the top 50 thinkers in my field essentially curate part of my news feed for me. And I get the immense privilege of catching a glimpse of their professional-practice-in-the-making, I essentially get to look over their shoulder what they are reading and who they interact with (as far as it makes their way onto twitter). It’s an apprenticeship of sorts, and one that would not be possible without this technology and one that wouldn’t scale the way this does.

It’s also social indeed as you start to get to know people beyond their field, by sharing online activities, by sharing recommendations, by having a chat. Yes, there are still leagues in some way or another. But, by showing up and being social (SOCIAL media, remember), you can form connections and interact with people whose work you only get to catch a glimpse of behind a paywall mostly. You get to see people’s thoughts form, you experience them thinking out loud, and you can join in. And when you see their video from that conference you can’t afford, you know how they got to that thought, and you will have been a part of that conversation.

When I was a student in the 90s (oops I said it), there was a lot of discussion about the internet levelling the playing field. We know now that this wasn’t quite as simple as we thought, but some of this has at least become a bit more elastic. Make good use of this.

Come join in! (Also, I need someone on my team to cover the sports and TV questions on the next pub quiz…)

Self-care

Don’t make twitter your main residence. Keep your offline life and keep working on that. Don’t feed the trolls. You can mute words, hashtags and people that upset you. Do that if you have to. It’s your feed and you get to curate it into what works for you right now. It’s OK to expand and contract this with your current holding capacity. It’s OK.

The techy bit:

How to set up an account https://help.twitter.com/en/using-twitter/create-twitter-account

How to find people, use hashtags and some etiquette https://www.wired.com/story/how-to-setup-twitter-search-hashtag-and-login-help/

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