Can Twitter be a Professional Development Tool?

Posted on May 7, 2018

In a time where we’re doing more with less, finding professional development opportunities is challenging. Budget constraints have made attending conferences and trainings difficult. However, even without attending an event, you can benefit from the knowledge being shared. A free Twitter account is a powerful professional development tool that keeps you connected to key conferences.

Here are seven ways a curated Twitter feed creates an opportunity for professional development.

  1. Substitute for in-person conference attendance

For some, conference attendance (beyond local event) isn’t possible because of budget constraints. If the budget dollars are available, management staff often gets the travel dollars. This can be frustrating, but it shouldn’t be viewed as a road block to accessing valuable information. In-person conference attendance is certainly important to building a network and learning, but it is not the only path.

Many people live tweet conference events. I have followed along with the AARP Livable Communities Charrette via the City of San Jose, California Twitter account. Next week, I will follow Twitter via updates on the 2018 Congress for New Urbanism while I am in Golden for ELGL 2018.

Twitter can help you keep your finger on the pulse of important topics and who to follow on Twitter. 

2. Follow the experts

Following experts on Twitter is a no-brainer. Find interesting conference presenters on Twitter. If you have an author you enjoy, find them on Twitter. This is great way to get their thoughts on relevant topics and engage them in a discussion.

3. Follow the organizations

Many great organizations (LIKE ELGL!) are posting interesting, relevant content on Twitter. Every day on my Twitter feed, I come across interesting projects and initiatives happening in cities and counties. I have found this approach to be crucial in keeping up with trends and best practices. 

4. Create a repository of information

The favorite and retweet functions in Twitter create a repository of articles and information you might want to access again. I find myself sharing and referencing articles I found on Twitter often and having them in my favorites list or timeline makes it easier for me to go back and find. Here are lists developed by ELGL.

5. Test theories on colleagues

Learning to communicate effectively in a limited character environment helps refine thoughts. Twitter is a great tool to post theories and ideas for validation and input. This is the step that moves you from simply consuming information from Twitter, to creating and adding value of your own.

6. Live tweet a conference

When you are able to attend a conference or training, live-tweeting the key points adds value to Twitter and your followers. You’re creating a timeline of notes for yourself while providing others an opportunity to stay involved remotely (and take advantage of option 1!).

7. Find opportunities

Twitter also connects you with  job openings, webinars, and more. Last week via Twitter I was able to compete for and win a spot to attend the Code for American Summit – something my organization would not have allowed me to do under normal circumstances.

Think of Twitter as a professional development opportunity tool. Spend time curating your feed to find valuable news and information. If you are able to attend event, don’t forget those who are not able to attend. How can you help develop all levels of the organization? Twitter is one (free) way to do that.

In lieu of What I’m Listening, Reading, and Watching, here is some of the best content I found on my twitter feed in the past few weeks.

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