It may seem like an oxymoron to consider using Facebook as a
way to build your career. After all, isn't that the place where everyone puts
pictures of their kids or posts what they did on their vacation? Sure, but an
increasing number of professionals are using social media platforms such as
Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to create primary learning communities (PLCs).
A PLC is a group of people with similar interests or skills working toward a
common goal. In the case of the SLPs and AUDs on the various Facebook pages,
the common goal is to enhance careers through collaboration, coaching, and
increased exposure to new information. In fact, the many pages and groups on
Facebook allow professionals to interact and collaborate in unique ways.
Before we get too far, let's first talk about some
misconceptions about Facebook. Some people believe Facebook is only used by
high school students and those fresh out of college. That particular myth can
be put to rest by simply looking at the plethora of professional pages
available. A second myth is that Facebook is a time-wasting activity. While
this can be true, it doesn't have to be. I recently posted the following
question on two of the facebook pages created by SLPs: "Why do you use Facebook
as a networking tool for SLPs?". More than one person answered the question by
stating they used Facebook because everything was in one place. They were able
to access resources from different groups, ask questions, share information,
and grow professionally with just a few clicks of the mouse.
What's really there?
Now that we've debunked some myths, let's talk about what's
really out there on Facebook. Professionals may not realize how many pages are
available through the simple click of a "like" button or a request to join. For
instance, a private practice SLP may find the page SLPs in Private Practice
useful. Those interested in dysphagia may find the Dysphagia Therapy Group
helpful. For those who use apps in therapy, there is the SLPs Talk Apps group,
and for audiologists there is an Audiologists page.
In addition to the professional pages, there are many pages
devoted to supporting companies. For instance, Smarty Ears Applications, Tactus
Therapy Solutions, and Mobile Education Store (among many others) have Facebook
pages on which they discuss new apps, offer links to reviews, and facilitate
discussion. Starkey Hearing Foundation, Lessonpix Custom Learning Materials,
and the Stuttering Foundation have Facebook pages as well. Even our own
American Speech-Language Hearing Association has Facebook pages filled with
valuable information for the busy SLP, audiologist and aspiring student.
Networking is another reason professionals use Facebook.
Through Facebook, SLPs and audiologists no longer need to wait until the next
conference to discuss rules and regulations, research, and therapy techniques
that may vary between states, regions and countries.
Although this tool has great career-building potential,
there also are some very real concerns to consider. As with any online
resource, there is a need to remain professional. Having an online presence
requires common-sense. Don't post pictures or comments you wouldn't want
clients or employers to see, and make sure your privacy protections are set
appropriately. This may include restricting who can mark pictures with your
name (called tagging), see posts, or comment on posts created by you. Setting
appropriate privacy protections may also mean deciding how your name can be
found if someone is searching for it on Facebook. Setting privacy protections
can be done with a few clicks of the mouse.
It should also be noted that "liking" pages does not mean
that everyone with access to the page is a "friend." Only friends, or people
who have been specifically friended, should have access to status updates,
viewing photos, and so forth. However, everyone with access to a professional
page will be able to see questions and answers posted to that particular page.
For example, if Suzie belongs to the SLPeeps Facebook page she will see my
posts, and my profile picture, on that page; however, she will not see my
personal status updates on my home page unless I allow her to.
As with any social media site, creating a Facebook presence
has pros and cons. However, for those willing to explore, Facebook will open
the door to enhanced collaboration, current research, and an elaborate network