|Image credit: Pete Simon, Flickr|
The following article first appeared in Funding Insight on December 3, 2013 and is reproduced with kind permission of Research Professional. For more articles like this visit www.researchprofessional.com.
I’m always slightly incredulous when I run career workshops for researchers and discover that only 5 per cent of the participants are using social media. Having been around when email came into common use in the early 1990s, it would have been hard to find a single PhD student or postdoc, five years on, avoiding this new communication revolution in favour of posting letters and phoning.
Access to a global network of information, opinion and jobs relevant to a huge range of disciplines, personal interests and careers is just one of the reasons to sign up to social media. More significantly for researchers, I recently heard a professor say in a practice interview session that he wouldn’t consider researchers seriously if they weren’t on ResearchGate or a similar social network such as Mendeley.
After the morning’s introductory session on the range of social media out there – while acknowledging that within a few years some of them may have disappeared, supplanted by as yet unimagined new ones – Anne moved on to blogging. This social medium has been around since the late 1990s and is usually a commentary on a particular topic by a single author, or sometimes multi-authored. Anne’s own blog, Plant Cell Biology, is a great example of a bright and informative site, and there are many more covering all sorts of topics from policy and careers to personal diaries.
Micro-blogging will take up much less of your time and in many cases, you can be relatively passive and still benefit from an online presence. This is when I discovered that Tweeting could be considered to be ‘micro-blogging’. Anne believes Twitter is the best example of micro-blogging, allowing you to blog in just 140 characters, amplifying your message with links to other sites or images.
As you engage with social media you will find yourself building an online identity. This needs to be consistent and portray you professionally. Whichever platform you are using, make sure that you have completed the majority of the ‘profile requirements’. For example, always use a picture of yourself which shows you at your best (especially on the professional LinkedIn site) and always add an informative profile— you can look around at others to get ideas.