For the record, I’m a HUGE advocate of leveraging social media for professional development and making connections with other educators. The network that I’ve built over the last few years is so very important to me, both professionally and personally.
But the keyword in that last sentence is “BUILT.” I’ve spent time building a network of people who are of value to me. A lot of time, actually.
I was thinking about something my friend, Jennifer Wagner tweeted out yesterday. By the way, I have never met Jen face-to-face. We have Skyped- a few years ago, she was gracious enough to call into a session I was facilitating about web tools- and we have conversed through Twitter and blog posts, but we have yet to meet in person. (Hope to change that status some day soon!) The point is… I still consider her a friend. She is helpful, responsive, sharing, and caring. This will be an important fact later in this post.
Yesterday, Jen said this in response to someone’s statement about the value of online communities:
… and I remembered then that the network/community that I so value now has taken me nearly 2.5 years to purposefully cultivate. When we share our enthusiasm with others, do we mention the time investment? How many people do you think would be willing to wait that long for the pay off?
Granted, there are some great ways to get started building a network- many have paved the way and want to help make it easier. Some examples:
- How to Build a PLN, Richard Byrne
- Building a PLN, Michelle Bourgeois, Colleen Glaude, Katie Morrow
- Review the Stages of PLN Adoption by Jeff Utecht
- Learn how to PLN Yourself with Sue Waters
I built my network through reading blogs, following blog writers on Twitter, finding who they follow, and then stalking lurking through Twitter for a while until I found the people who became of value to me. When I was a kid, there was a commercial about shampoo where one person told two friends, and they told two friends, and they told two friends… I use that same philosophy with blogs and Twitter. When I first started following others on blogs and Twitter, I looked to see who my friends were following, and I started following them, too.
The most important thing you can remember about building a network… be patient. And then:
- Involve yourself.
- Complete your bio on your own blog and/or Twitter (this is a must! Most people I know don’t follow people with empty bio’s. We want to know who are you and what you think!)
- Jump into conversations on Twitter.
- Read and comment on blogs.
- Know that you’re probably not going to get immediate responses from around the world until you’ve invested some time. A lot of people get disappointed because they don’t receive a lot of comments on their blog posts or responses on Twitter after they first start using those tools. It really does take some time.
And that’s okay… because you WILL find value in that network or community you’ve helped to build. Soon, those people whose names cross your Twitter stream or whose blog posts you’ve been reading… they become valued friends who will be glad to share, listen, and learn with you.
[…] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Michelle Baldwin, Jesse McLean. Jesse McLean said: RT @michellek107: Networks/Communities are great, but… new post http://bit.ly/a3e9im Great post about starting with your PLN, be patient! […]
This is a great post, Michelle. It’s so true. I forget what I felt like when I just started all of this and the time it takes for it all to develop. Thanks for writing this. It’s good for me to keep in mind as more people I know start up with twitter.
Thanks, Becky. Every time I answer a tweet such as “tell us why you like Twitter in education” – or something like that – I forget how long it’s taken to get to where I feel comfortable today.
I’m a pre-service teacher absorbing and trying to create a meaningful PLN. I’ve been lurking on Twitter and checking out some great blogs and have really gained some great insight into education and PD over the past month or so.
I wish this were taught and encouraged by all pre-service teacher programs. Definitely worth the time and effort.
Kate, thanks so much for your comment! It sounds like you have a great start, too! I’ve found that people are genuinely willing to share and help… you just have to ask. 🙂
I’m so glad that you’re finding it worth your time and effort… you AND your future students will benefit!
Thanks so much for the shoutout — and I too look forward to a real f2f chat.
I think you hit on an important point — that is often not said — in that IT TAKES TIME…..and then sometimes it takes even more time.
And remember that your network is going to change — it might change often, or it might not — (mine has changed a lot) —
AND you need to find a few (10-15) that are reliable, consistent, helpful, educational, and fun. Get to know them, let them get to know you……and then follow who they follow as well.
I am glad you shared this — not because of the shout out to me — but because this needs to be said, and sadly, many are not including this in their conversations.
Thank you, Jen, for the inspiration for the post and the reminders that it isn’t always the ‘great party’ we proclaim it to be. There’s a lot of work involved here… worthwhile, but it takes an investment to get there.
I so appreciate your honesty and your voice of reason in my network! 🙂
I really liked your blog. I agree with your statements about investing time. I too spent quite a bit of time lurking before starting to tweet. I am not up to 2 1/2 years yet. Thanks again.
LOVE your post! I am not new to tech integration but I am a newbie to blogging so your post makes me feel so much better about the lack of comments on my blog. You made me remember why I started it in the first place . . . to connect. Maybe it will take a long, long time but I know it will be worth it. Thanks again!