If you’ve visited our calendar of L&D professional development events you will have noticed there are quite a few Twitter chats listed.
Someone asked me recently if they are there to “pad out” the calendar.
I immediately understood that this person had never participated in a Twitter chat.
The reason I know that?
Because anyone who has ever attended one knows that they are a super valuable asset to your professional development toolkit.
Here’s 9 reasons why:
1. Real time connection
Much of social media is asynchronous, i.e. the conversations you have with others are not real time.
Consider group discussions and posts on LinkedIn and Facebook as an example.
Twitter chats run on specific days and times. You know there will be other people online at the same time and you can have real-time discussions and connection with them, even if they are on the other side of the world.
2. Focus on specific topics
Twitter chats are always centered around a very specific topic and set of questions, so you can:
a) decide whether to attend based on your interest in that area and
b) do some research beforehand if you like.
This opens up opportunities for you to share what you already know about the subject matter or learning something new.
Win-win all round.
3. Exposure to new networks
I have discovered some valuable new networks and made some great new connections through Twitter chats.
I like to get out and about in person where I can to meet new people in the industry, but this is a good avenue to explore if you don’t get much opportunity to network face-to-face or want to expand your national or international network.
A lot of Twitter chats happen outside of work AU/NZ hours to engage with more people or because they are run from international locations.
Twitter, of course, is available as a mobile app so you have the added flexibility of being able to connect to a chat from wherever you are.
I would note here that it can be a little difficult to keep up with the flurry of Tweets coming through when chats get going, so you may want to explore apps like TweetChat.
5. Opportunities to share your experience and expertise
Twitter chats are an awesome place to be able to share your experience and expertise. If you are looking to raise your professional profile and demonstrate expertise in a particular space, this is where you need to be.
There are other channels you can use like LinkedIn articles – and I recommend you write those too – but the power of real-time communication when you can share what you know and answer people’s questions about it is just gold.
Who doesn’t love a freebie, especially when it comes to professional development?!
Aside from the connection fee you are already paying for access to the internet, there is no cost to you in terms of travel, admission or retention of the chat content – which is usually nicely summarised via tools like Storify.
It doesn’t get much better than that.
7. You decide level of participation
Personally, I like to get involved in chats. Even if I don’t know much about the subject matter I can still ask questions – questions that maybe others want to ask but don’t.
The more people who take part in the discussion, the richer the experience and the more we all learn.
But if you are not comfortable with taking an active part, especially for your first couple of chats, you can also decide to just lurk.
The important thing is that you are there.
8. Regular professional development
Lots of chats run weekly and there are some that run daily (see our calendar for details) so you can dip into a different chat almost every day of the week.
These online discussions are just as much professional development as a paid workshop and can add significant value to your knowledge and skillset.
9. You will learn at least one new thing
The backgrounds and skill-sets of people who get involved in Twitter chats is so wide and varied that I would be surprised to find anyone who has attended a chat and not learned anything new.
Even if you only take away one thing from a chat you attend, isn’t that worth it?
Got any questions or observations about Twitter chats or want to share your fave chats with us? See you in the comments below ?