I have never been a follower of others’ expectations. As a youngster, I resisted learning to cook because it was ‘women’s work’. I chafed against gender stereotypes. Playing street hockey with neighbourhood boys was much more fun than learning to make roast beef dinner with mashed potatoes and gravy, sliced carrots, peas, and a good cuppa tea -- typical Maritime supper in the early 70s. In recent times, I have felt bombarded by messages that I must use social media to keep current as a professional and connected as a modern human being. In the face of the ubiquitous social media buzz, my non-conformist response has been to be sceptical, to wait and see.
What changed my mind? Just as I learned to cook when I was about to leave home and fend for myself as a university athlete with a healthy appetite, I began to ‘try on’ social media when I could see the benefits for me. I joined LinkedIn a year ago, as a ‘stopgap’ measure to promote my work while my website was in progress. Each time I logged/linked in, it was cool to see what my present and past colleagues were doing, who else they knew, and how I might connect (or re-connect). I signed up for Twitter last spring, only to follow tweets from a friend who was on a road trip through the southwest U.S. I now can see how I could share tweets about my own travels -- from a holiday or a professional conference -- or about resources I discover that could benefit clients and colleagues.
I joined facebook last fall, just to view a friend’s travel photos from the Northwest Passage. Within 2-3 days, I had re-connected with cousins in Ontario whom I used to visit, but had not seen in 20+ years, since I moved to Alberta. We now correspond through facebook. This week their son, teaching in Korea, sent me a LinkedIn request. I have decided that for an upcoming holiday, it will be simpler to post facebook status updates and mobile photo uploads than to send people individual e-mails, especially when time in wi-fi zones will be limited. My mind then turned to using facebook status updates to pose questions to stimulate on-line conversations.
So just as my cooking skills and tastes have expanded beyond the ‘meat and potatoes’ of my childhood as I was exposed to evermore culinary experiences, I expect my social media use will evolve as I see new ways these tools can enrich my life and enhance my work.
I welcome your comments on my latest blog, and encourage you to click my facebook icon to share how you use (or could use) social media in your work. Just as I was finishing my blog, I received by e-mail a related post from ACE Communities, an 'early adopter' of social media. The post includes information about an upcoming webinar entitled "Communicate! A Beginner's Look at Social Media". Go to blog