When I speak at events, I stopped asking, "how many people have a Twitter account?" Why, because more than half of the room's hands shot up. The number of accounts is irrelevant. So now I ask, "How many USE Twitter?" This is a more direct question.
And in a room of 50 communicators, you might only see five or six hands go up. I pull the soapbox out and begin preaching the value of Twitter to internal communicators. Though I doubt my rant is very effective at convincing others, it at least makes me feel better.
By the very nature of the profession, internal communicators keep their minds internal. They are focused on what's going on INSIDE their company. And therefore so many are missing out on social media as an amazing professional resource.
In a recent Harvard Business Review article, author Alexandra Samuel discusses using social media to build professional skills. Yes, social media can be used for a lot of reasons, in which the negative reasons seem to get brought up. But when it comes to advancing your learning and skills, it's tough to be what's available on Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.
As Alexandra points out, it's more than selfies and recipes. And if that's what you use social media for, the more power to you. But don't limit to just that if you want to get more value out of the time spent. She recommends asking yourself these three questions:
- What do I want to learn?
Perhaps you want to connect with a niche industry of peers within IC. Or your company is going through an acquisition and you want to learn from someone who's been through it. Whatever the reason, you'll find them, willing, eager and able to share advice.
- When do I have time for learning?
People ask me how I have time to do what I do. And I tell them, I make time. What I should say instead is that I maximize my time. But assume as you shut off time for learning new skills, habits or techniques, you might as well just turn off your career. But if you want to keep the lights on, there are resources available from people all over the world.
- Whom do I want to learn from or with?
And this is the true power of social - connecting people. You don't have to "follow" someone to see what they are sharing. But if you do follow, engage with them. Some of my best industry partnerships and friendships originated directly from Twitter or LinkedIn. Either they reached out to me or the other way around. But what matters now is that we are resources for each other. The #internalcomms hashtag on Twitter is a great place to start, in addition to your existing network.
For many communicators, attending several communication events a year just isn't a possible, whether it's time or budget. But with a little investigative work on social media, you'd be amazed at how many free and available resources are out there to advance your career. It's time you made the investment in yourself.