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How to Use Social Media for Professional Development

Most of us identify professional development with formal degree and training programs. However, the bigger part of the professional success story is dependent on your personal learning networks (PLNs). Social media has the ability to amplify your reach through expansion of PLNs, which can be aptly utilized for enhancing one’s professional growth.

In this advancing digital era, if we aren’t using social media to keep up with professional relationships and organizations, there is a risk of being left behind. But one cannot help but think: How much social media interaction is appropriate for professional growth?

Growing your PLN

Everyone has his own Personal Learning Network, although not many recognize it. A PLN includes a basic set of relationships that offers information and understanding regarding one’s personal and professional development. Most of our important PLN relationships are with persons who we already know and interact frequently.   However, thanks to the range of technologies available now, these PLNs are now no longer limited to face-to-face interactions. One can use social networks like Twitter, Google, LinkedIn and Facebook to amplify access to resources to international networking and sharing and hence, increase the reach and effectiveness of their PLN. The social media tools leverage creation of a collaborative environment by initiating new conversations, and contributions.

 An example of how it works for most,

On the weekend I decide to check my social media networks. One of my friends had shared a scoop about how Humming bird update is going to affect the content marketers. I liked the update and shared it in my network on LinkedIn. Next morning I saw users engaging with the update through likes and comments, which gave me an idea of having a discussion with my peers at office. In a Facebook group that exclusively comprises of my colleagues I shared the idea and proposed a discussion on same on Monday. Within hours reply pour in and everyone is charged up for a brainstorming session, which definitely is one of the biggest tools of professional development.

For those who want to explore their PLNs via social tools, the following recommendations should work fine:

  • Start with building a presence on social media platforms. Explore the networks and information sharing resources. Join groups as per your career/discipline area.
  • Always narrow down your focus to regularize the flow of information and reduce the clutter
  • Exercise the power social media unleashes upon you with responsibility

Use each social network to its maximum potential


Facebook networkingThe ubiquitous video sharing site has more than 1 billion unique monthly users. Created in 2007, the 
YouTube Partner program has 30,000+ partners from 27 countries around the world.  With 60 hours of video being uploaded every minute, there is little chance that all of that will be crap. In fact, one can possibly find video resource about every topic imaginable. The huge variety of instructional video available on YouTube makes it the number one interactive social media tool for professional development. 

Networking on Facebook

youtube screenshot

Last updated, Facebook has more than 1.28 billion active monthly users, which is roughly one-sixth of the entire world population. The social networking giant has introduced an extensive array of tools throughout its evolution that can be used effectively for professional growth. Whether it is Facebook groups, Business pages or Events, each of these tools is equally useful. These are great ways of communicating with experts, spreading new ideas, building new relationships, building contacts and trying new things out.

Events will keep informing you about the latest learning opportunities happening in and around your city which you can attend for better networking. 

Twitter: The best companion experience to what's happening in their world 

Twitter is another mainstream social media outlet. It has 255 million monthly active users as per the latest reports disclosed by the company, which was up by 14 million sequentially. Twitter is useful in a number of ways. However, the first thing to do after you set up an account is learn the language of the Twittered. The social network definitely has a learning curve associated with it, but it won’t be much time before you get familiar with terminology like hashtags, avatar, tweets, promoted tweets, RLRT, RT, Timestamp and activities such as connecting with like-minded learning professionals, following shared news stories, Trends amongst other. Your career development through Twitter will include information and active participation in Twitter chats around a particular subject area.

LinkedIn: The official professional network  

The original social network created for professionals, it has more than 250million members which includes companies, groups and organizations, and of course individuals. To ensure maximum utilization, your profile should be complete and professionally oriented. Nothing can understate the importance of a good professional headshot as your profile picture.

Take credit for accomplishments and be generous while offering recommendations and endorsements for people you know.  Send personalized connection requests to professionals and join groups in area of your interest. With LinkedIn publishing platform becoming free-for-all, you can also write professional posts to show expertise and share the content in your network. Last but not the least; LinkedIn is a place to find some of the best work opportunities in the industry.

In a global economy, it wouldn’t be wise to limit yourselves to purely local connections. Your professional success will also depend on how well you are able to utilize different technological aids, social media and mobile being the top amongst them, to increase your PLN. 

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