August 1, 2013 Columns

Get Social: Build Your Career With Social Media

Do you get as excited as we do about going to big conferences like ASHA? There's so much going on: Professional learning and access to cutting-edge research. People from all over the world sharing their passion for what they do. And networking, networking, networking.

What if we told you that you can have a lot of this experience daily? Well you can-through social media.

This is why professionals are turning to social media in droves. Open communities of SLPs and audiologists share ideas, resources, opportunities and friendship in the places you'd expect, like LinkedIn, but also in places you might not, like Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and even Pinterest. These platforms can offer professional development, just as a conference does. Many SLPs and audiologists work without the benefit of other professionals to answer questions, brainstorm, or discuss evidence and research. Via social media, professionals everywhere can access specialists, academics, clinicians in every area, and "exhibitors," such as product developers or suppliers.

The SLPs, audiologists and students using social media often link to informative articles and innovative research. Discussions cover everything from research, therapy techniques, job opportunities and goal writing to new technology, upcoming conferences, and workplace situations.

Of course, not all professionals embrace social media. At a session on the topic at ASHA 2012, some attendees expressed reluctance to engage with social media, citing lack of time, fear of the unknown, or doubts about the professional growth available. These concerns are valid when anyone first hears of this new platform. Still, the use and development of primary learning networks through social media is growing as people find out those first objections don't always have to be a concern. 

Of course, professional behavior is expected at a conference, and there is a certain amount of professional behavior expected with social media. These online networks are public and a professional appearance is helpful. We know not to discuss specific clients or students at a crowded restaurant, and this is also true on the Internet. In addition to professional personal behavior, it is important to recognize and respect that many workplaces now have a social media policy. An employee's comments may not reflect the employer's views. Therefore, those using social media professionally (but not connected specifically to their employer) often place a disclaimer on their profile stating that their views may not reflect those of their employers.

Social media is here and many professionals are already reaping its benefits, building a professional learning network, expanding their practices, and engaging with SLPs and audiologists around the world. In future columns, members of our online communities will present information on social media platforms where speech and hearing professionals are gathering, letting you know how to find them and explaining what each platform is used for most. We will also discuss common concerns about using social media for professional development, as well as avoidable pitfalls. We look forward to sharing our online "conference" experiences with everyone so that, even if you can't go to ASHA this year, you'll feel as though you did as a part of the online community!

Tanya Coyle, MSc, S-LP (C), is a school-based SLP in Ontario, Canada, and has authored SLP and educational apps for iPad. She helped establish the SLP community on Twitter (@SLPTanya) and offers a social media series on her blog at lexicallinguist.wordpress.com.

Mary Huston, MS, CCC-SLP, is a school-based SLP in rural North Dakota, and a member of the Smarty Ears Advisory Board. She has authored iPad applications and collaborates with SLPs internationally via Twitter, Facebook, and her blog at www.speechadventures.com.

cite as: Coyle, T.  & Huston, M. (2013, August 01). Get Social: Build Your Career With Social Media. The ASHA Leader.

  

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