I have presented pretty extensively at conferences during the past two years about using social media to develop your Personal Learning Network, or PLN, and these are the three things I would recommend as you get started:
1. Figure out your goals. Spend some time thinking about why you are doing this. Is it because you feel isolated and want professional friends, because you want more ideas and resources, a combination of those two, or something else entirely? Knowing why you are doing this will help you stick with it as you experiment to find what works for you.
2. Figure out your online identity. Are you going to be representing your library? Totally personal? Totally private? A combination? I personally decided that I wanted my social media presence to be something that potential employers could find, and went for using my full name. Whatever you decide is fine, just know that it can be harder to get to know people (especially meeting at conferences!) if you use a pseudonym or anonymized version of your name. I’ve been embarrassed several times by not knowing or recognizing someone in person who I totally “know” online.
3. Find what works for you. There is no one right way to have a PLN (Read that, for realz.). I started my PLN with an RSS reader and blogs, and that changed my life. Now I primarily rely on personal relationships via Twitter and email, but if I still just read blogs and that worked for me? Totally legit. Whatever works is the right way to do your PLN. Whatever makes you feel fulfilled and gives you what you need. One of my pet peeves is hating on social media formats that you don’t use. Just because I don’t personally find Facebook fulfilling doesn’t mean that it isn’t a TOTALLY AWESOME way for others to develop their PLN. I was very put off at ALA when I attended a session for a particular social media network and they spent a bunch of time bashing Twitter. Twitter works for me–it might not work for you, though, and THAT’S OK. So don’t be a hater. If you’re doing it, you’re doing it right.
I didn’t bring up all the presenting I’ve done just to brag, but so that I could share some resources. This site, Making Social Media Work for YOU: Creating a Personal Learning Network was created to help people explore some of the options for getting started on a PLN, and it wouldn’t exist without these awesome librarians in my personal PLN: Sara Bryce, Sarah Wethern, and LeAnn Suchy. So go check it out, and find what works for you!Anna Haase Krueger blogs at Future Librarian Superhero and tweets @opinionsbyanna. Her ability to remember (and then link to, because she remembers it!) terrific online content is pretty gosh darn impressive and I, for one, benefit as a direct result. I’m also jealous of her glasses.