Blog Secret Santa and “Flipped Networking”

This is my ‘Blog Secret Santa gift to Tannel Tammik – enjoy!

Flipped networking

It has been just over a year since I joined Twitter. I attended a conference where Helen Blunden from Melbourne ran a session on using Twitter to expand you personal learning network (PLN).

Helen’s enthusiasm and straightforward instructions made it easy to want to join in. Since there was no wifi at the conference venue (despite it being called Technology Park!), I had to wait until I got back to my hotel. Once I joined I was hooked.

If, like me, you think Twitter is just for people Tweeting what they had for lunch, you are in for a surprise, but a good one. Social media, be it Twitter or Google+ or [insert platform of your choice] gives you the power to connect to others in you profession that is just not possible with the traditional methods of networking. Social media doesn’t replace face-to-face networking, it expands it on a grand scale.

So, in the last 12 months I have connected with people in Canada, the USA, Australia, NewZealand and many other countries. The most extraordinary outcome was connecting online with Australian colleagues through monthly Tweetchats and THEN meeting them in person. I call it “flipped-networking” – it used to be that you met people at conferences and then developed a relationship; now you develop a relationship online and THEN meet people face to face.

Twitter has allowed me to develop a PLN of colleagues who are interesting, thought provoking, challenging, stimulating, and most of all, inspiring.

Thank you to all of my PLN for making 2014 one of the most positive professional growth years for me. Big thanks to Con Sotidis (@LearnKotch) and Helen Blunden (@activateLearn) who introduced me to Twitter and the PLN potential. And to those I have met “Flipped network” style – I felt like we had met before – because we had!

May you all expand your PLN in 2015

(You can join mine on Twitter @vanessaAnorth, and on LinkedIn)

4 thoughts on “Blog Secret Santa and “Flipped Networking”

  1. Hi Vanessa, great story – and as I was reflecting on how your twitter / PLN journey compared to my own, there are some differences – but also similarities. I actually first joined twitter many years ago and attempted a couple of times to get into #lrnchat after reading somewhere that it was an excellent professional learning experience. I really didn’t get it though. I didn’t understand how twitter worked. I didn’t understand how twitter chats worked. I found the entire experience confusing, overwhelming and intimidating. I didn’t see the value. It just seemed to me like a bunch of people firing off random thoughts. I knew there was probably something I was missing but it just all seemed way too hard. I stayed away for a long time. Then a couple of years ago I decided to give it another go – and stick with it for a bit. this twitter thing was here to stay so I should really get my head around it. I read a few articles about hashtags and how to post on twitter and use it for professional development. I posted a few things. I followed some interesting people. Some people followed back. Some of my tweets got picked up by content curators. I started a blog. I was discovering interesting articles and relevant content and people and blogs I never knew about. Having tweets RT’d or picked up by curators provided motivation to keep going with it (I always thought twitter – and all social media, really – is like gamification of social interaction > with followers/friends/connections/RTs/likes/mentions/replies/comments and all those quantitative markers the equivalent of a leaderboard or badge – gimmicks to sustain your extrinsic motivation to invest time into it. Although, of course, like all gamified apps, it is the learning/challenge and social interaction that feeds intrinsic motivation and makes it a sustainable long term habit). It was good and I found it valuable but I didn’t really realise its full value until I started using it purposefully for interactions with People (not just for discovering and sharing / RT’ing content). For me, the catalyst for using twitter for meaningful social interaction actually happened through participation in a MOOC (‘exploring PLNs’) – which is also where I met Helen properly for the first time (seriously, she is part of so many people’s ‘first time’ social media / networking experiences…it’s a testament to her infectious passion and enthusiasm!). This is where I first participated properly in a tweet chat. And started to ‘get it’. I started to understand the value of twitter not just for discovering mind expanding and inspiring content and people, but interacting with these people in a meaningful way to discuss and connect ideas, and develop relationships. And it is That which I think takes the twitter experience to a whole new level.

    So where am (or was…) I going with all this?
    Although my journey to twitter and understanding its value seems at the outset quite different to yours, the critical common elements I think are participating in actual conversations and meaningful dialogue with people (e.g. via tweet chats or other interactions) – and I think this can only be easily learnt on twitter in the context of a supportive environment, with people you trust. For you, it was being introduced to twitter at the conference by Helen, and then participating in tweet chat experiences with people you trusted; for me it was participating in a tweet chat in the context of a mooc, with a relatively small group of people who I’d already been introduced to, in a semi formal learning context. In my experience, it’s pretty difficult to build up to this without this type of support.

    Anyway, I’ve rambled on long enough (just thought it was interesting to compare…)


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