As part of our series on career networking for researchers, our colleagues Katie Evans, Research Analytics Librarian, and Hannah DeGoff, Scholarly Communications Librarian, have written a guest blog post on making the most of twitter for academic networking.
Twitter for Academic Networking
Academic research is inherently collaborative. Participating in networks within your field and beyond is vital. But face-to-face networking, for example at conferences, is time consuming and expensive. Social media offers huge potential for academic networking. Here are three steps to building your network:
1. Establish an academic profile
Consider using Twitter in a professional capacity , and make sure your bio includes your academic interests and credentials.
• Linking to an official profile page, for example your University of Bath research portal profile, validates your credentials and makes it easier for people to find out more about your work.
• Use relevant hashtags in your bio to make it more likely to appear in search listings.
• Consider pinning a Tweet which promotes your work so that it’s the first thing people see when they view your account.
High profile public academics Professor Alice Roberts @theAliceRoberts and Professor Jim Al-Khalili @jimalkhalili are good examples. At time of writing Alice Roberts’s pinned Tweet refers to her recent Royal
Institution Christmas Lectures, while Jim Al-Khalili’s promotes his forthcoming novel.
2. Foster acquaintances
To get started, follow people you already know, for example colleagues or other doctoral researchers in your cohort. See if your research group and/or Department has an online presence which you can connect to. Consider starting a shared Twitter account or list with colleagues in your field as a way of keeping in touch and amplifying each other’s online presence.
Researchers, particularly early career researchers, are often geographically mobile. Connecting on social media means you can keep in touch with former colleagues and students when you or they move on to new roles elsewhere.
If you meet someone at a conference, connect with them on Twitter or LinkedIn as a way of registering your professional association. This could make it easier if you ever need to contact them in the future for professional reasons. Make use of event hashtags to find and connect with other delegates. For example, if you’re going to an event you could Tweet “Looking forward to #EventHashtag. Who else is going?”
In the emerging etiquette of social media, following/unfollowing someone on Twitter does not carry the same weight or implication of reciprocity associated, for example, with being Facebook friends. Generally, you can feel free to follow anyone whose profile interests you. Periodically you may want to weed who you follow to better tailor your Tweeter feed to your interests.
3. Join the conversation
So you’ve set up a carefully curated profile and followed loads of interesting people in your field, but what are you going to post? Here are a few ideas.
• Take part in a Twitter chat: These are online conversations on an agreed theme, often at a particular time, for example an hour one evening a week. You join in by including the chat hashtag in your Tweet. #PhDchat and #AcademicTwitter are well established academic hashtags. See if you can find chats for your field or consider getting a group together to start one.
• Live Tweet from conferences: Posts can be descriptive, or you can add additional material and opinions. Use the event hashtag and attribute quotes and ideas by including the speaker’s Twitter handle or name . Be conscious that sometimes live Tweeting is not appropriate, for example if researchers are sharing early findings that are not intended for wider dissemination.
• Distance participation: If you can’t attend a conference in person, you can still take part by following the conference hashtag on Twitter. Ask questions or offer relevant material.
• Share material that’s useful and interesting to your network. Retweet material you find helpful.
If you think you’d benefit from taking time out to consider your digital identity in a structured and strategic way, come to the Doctoral Skills workshop on Managing your Digital Identity as a Researcher or book an appointment for the next Social Media Café.