Five months in Twitterspace….is it worth it?

Captains log….

It is now five months since I decided to take the plunge and give Twitter a go for professional social networking so in this months blog I thought it would be a good time to share my thoughts and progress to date.

I was already networking socially with friends using facebook and I had previously signed up for a twitter account but just didn’t get it! The reason: I wasn’t following many people, no-one was following me and I hadn’t worked out what I was going to use the 140 twitter characters for.

In my first blog “Getting started with Twitter”, I mentioned attending a session by @craigtaylor74 who helped me on my way by suggesting I follow the people he followed. I did and started to “lurk”, quickly realising the benefits – I was building a network of writers, thinkers, learning professionals, experts and novices with whom I had a shared interest – a passion for learning and technology.

As my “following” network grows, I have access to a vast amount of information that I can sift through using favourites to mark the ones I want to view/keep. Having signed up and lurked for a while I started to contribute mainly through retweets and social tweets until I started blogging in March 2011 at which point I finally had my own content to share. I have to admit that it did take a while to press send on my first few tweets and once I did I immediately suffered a sweaty palm moment wondering if I would get a response and if I did would it be positive or negative!

Once you have tweeted and retweeted a few times you do get braver and recently I looked at my tweets and thought “350+, how did that happen? My initial anxed has obviously waned!”

I am making some great relationships online and was fortunate to meet several of these at a recent face to face event. The support I have received from the twitter community has helped build my online confidence to the extent that last week I participated in my first live twitter chat as part of  the e-learning network #elnil.

The people involved in the #elnil chat were very encouraging and welcoming. Even though I couldn’t stay for the whole session I contributed to the first question and saw the power of this tool for connecting en mass with others in a way that I hadn’t experienced before.  Participating in this live event helped me see in practice how Twitter can be used to support group learning/discussion.

Even five months into this, I still class myself more as a “lurker” and apparently there is nothing wrong with this.  However, having recently read a blog by @denniscallahan called “Joining is important to social learning” I am motivated to contribute and participate more even if it is just in a small way so that I can give something back to the community.

If you are just starting out or have been lurking for a while try to take the next step. You might not think you have anything to share (I was the same) but I am sure you have! If you are hesitating about starting this journey on your own find friends/colleagues that can join with you or connect with people that you know are already online. They will provide invaluable support if you need it.

I have been fortunate in finding a group of friends online that were taking the plunge around the same time as me. We support each other and use the hashtag #bloggingimprovers. The group members are @kategraham23 @niallgavinuk @MandyRG and I would like to take this opportunity to thank them all personally for their support. I’d also like to thank @craigtaylor74 @dames20 @mikecollins007 and @Burrough for their ongoing online communication, everyone I follow for their contributions and all my followers for sticking with me. You are all part of my personal learning journey and it is worth it!!! (….and no there wasn’t an Oscar or a BAFTA in sight prompting that little thank you speech!!).