I was recently asked who to follow on Twitter. This is so subjective. It would be easy to say follow XYZ. However, something is missed in this. Whenever someone joins up, I recommend people that I feel might be of interest to them and how I understand them. If though this is not enough, these are some of the strategies that I have used to broaden my network:
- Lists: I find so many people who are unaware that lists even exist. They allow you to group together collections of users. Hidden in the options within the usual Twitter application, lists come into their own if you use Tweetdeck. You can subscribe to others or create your own. You can make them public or keep them private. A great place to start is Sue Water’s list of Australian Educators. You can either subscribe to this list which will add it to your collection or go through and add various users. Once you start looking, you will find endless lists out there to mine.
- Chats: Another great place to find new people is in chats. Two positives to this is that they are often active users (for they would not be participating in the chat), while they are specific to an area of interest. If you are interested in coaching then check out #educoachOC the first Monday of every month. If you are a PE teacher check out #pechat on every other Monday. If you are simply interested in education in Australia and abroad then check out #satchatoz on a Saturday morning. (Not the times will change depend on where you are reading this, sorry.) What is great about chats is that if you missed them, you can easily catch up at a later time. They are often Storified to make this easier.
- Follow-Who-Others-Follow: A different approach to chats and lists is to simply follow who other people are following. Maybe you have found someone who is sharing interesting things, whose ideas push your thinking, then look at who they are following. This can be useful to really broaden your network. For example, maybe you have read Jon Andrews’ blog and find that he shares interesting ideas, check out who maybe inspiring him and add some of these voices to your stream. This approach however has its limits when you follow people who may follow hundreds, if not thousands, of people.
The reality in the end is that there are so many different means of adding to your network. For some, like Alec Couros, if you are in education you are in. Others swear by lists of people published using the hashtag #FF (aka ‘Follow Friday’). Others just depend on Twitter’s algorithms to suggest people. The reality is, finding people is easy, the real challenge is what you do once you are there. That, in the end, is what matters most. You can follow five or fifty thousand, if you are not engaging (either sharing or lurking) then what is the point?
So what about you? How do you build your networks? As always, comments welcome.
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