A Personal Learning Network (PLN) is a professional learning community that all working from home moms should have. In a previous article, you learned what a PLN is and why it is important for all remote workers. The social network Twitter is a vital tool to use for your PLN. Twitter’s interface, functionalities, and capabilities allow you to maximize your professional learning experiences and networking. There is no other social network platform that allows you to see so much up-to-date information in real time and easily find and connect with people or companies all over the world.
Twitter’s interface allows you to do the following:
1. Direct Tweet to specific people or organizations using " @ " followed by a username. This allows you to have back-and-forth conversations with people in your PLN to build your professional learning community.
2. Direct Tweet to a specific audience within a niche using a # (hashtag), which is the # symbol before a word or group of words. For example, #wahm is the hashtag for working at home moms, or in the field of education a popular hashtag is #edchat. This functionality lets you reach the professional audience in your expertise. People can see your Tweets, read the content you share, and follow you if they choose. You can get your name out there by letting people see who you are and what you are about.
3. Search for and find people in your niche that you may want to follow. Twitter has a search function at the top of the home screen. You can search specific people’s names, specific usernames, specific hashtags, or keywords to find Tweets about content within your expertise.
4. Create lists of contacts by any criteria you choose. You can create and add users to your lists. Create list names based on any keyword you choose. For example, if you are an online educator you can create lists called ‘online teachers’ and ‘elearning platforms’, etc.
5. Have a homepage with a continuous stream of information in real time. The information is a continuous flow of Tweets from the people you follow. This stream provides a continuous flow of learning content and networking interactions. If you see a Tweet you want to respond to, click on reply and send your comment in 140 characters or less. You can also send the information from a Tweet you like to all of your followers by clicking the retweet icon. For Tweets you like you can also click on ‘more’ and send the Tweet via email to someone, or you can click on embed to get the coding to embed the Tweet on your website or blog.
6. Send private direct messages to users as long as you and the user follow each other. This feature can be a great way to connect with professionals in your community privately for further networking, passing along email contacts, and setting up in-person meetings.
7. Add Tweets that you like or want to read later to your ‘favorites'. This is like bookmarking, as it allows you to easily access the Tweet later for reading or follow-up.
Because Twitter's interface allows so many community interactions in real time, it's the first social networking platform you should use to begin your PLN. If you don’t use Twitter, you are missing out on a vital collaborative community that will maximize your professional connections and interests.