This is the first post in what I hope will be a continuous series of posts by guest bloggers within the field of international education. I have asked all of them the same questions in the hopes of offering more information on how social media actually does impact the field of international education as a profession and impacts the professional. I also hope you will be able to discover how easy it is to get started with social media and some new tools you might be able to use.
My first guest blogger is Frank Merendino. Here is part one of his guest blog.
How does social media influence your international education job?
I would say there are two main ways that social media impacts my job as an international educator—networking and staying informed. I’ll start with networking. LinkedIn and Twitter have become tools I don’t think I could live without anymore….ok, maybe that’s a bit dramatic, but they really do make networking so much easier and more accessible for me. LinkedIn is great for keeping all of my contacts in the cloud instead of worrying about business cards (full disclosure: I am old school and have several Rolodex folders filled with business cards, so I haven’t completely abandoned older methods of staying in contact with people). Don’t believe me or think that LinkedIn and Twitter aren’t great ways to network? Let me share a real-life example to illustrate one way these tools worked for me.
At last year’s NAFSA conference in Kansas City I met several people at the Tweet-up who I had been following and interacting with online via Twitter. The Tweet-up was great—I was able to put faces to Twitter handles of other international educators I follow. A short while later, I was looking for potential community colleges to partner with and stumbled across a community college that fit the profile I was looking for and just so happened to be the place of employment of someone I met at the Tweet-up. I reached out directly to my “Twitter colleague” who worked at the school, and ultimately a partnership was formed. I believe the level of comfort that Twitter allowed us to have strengthened the relationship that I wouldn’t even have had if it weren’t for connecting via Twitter. This partnership may have been possible without social media, but the amount of time that was cut out from initially developing a relationship via Twitter cannot be discounted.
How did you get into social media?
I was loath to join Facebook at first, but eventually caved after it became apparent there was no way to avoid it. I still don’t use Facebook very much. It did however introduce me to the general idea of connecting with people virtually and was very much the gateway for other social media platforms like LinkedIn and twitter, which I use more frequently today. I have been using LinkedIn for a while, but in the past three years it has become a site I find myself on at least once a day. As I mentioned above, I use it as a networking tool and as a “digital rolodex”. LinkedIn has also become a way for me to chart my career path. By connecting with other international educators, I have been able to see their previous and current positions, the path they took, and what skills they have developed to help them move down that path. With the background information LinkedIn provides, I have had topics to talk about when I meet people in the real world.
Me: “So, what school did you like attending more, Wisconsin or Ohio State?”
Colleague: “Wow! You really did your homework!”
Me: (thinking this but not saying it out loud) “Yes…I quickly looked at your LinkedIn profile on my mobile about 15 minutes before meeting with you.”
I’ve also had instances where colleagues reach out to me via LinkedIn or I was able to contact them to ask a question. Sure, I could send an email, but I don’t always have their email and it’s nice being able to manage all of your contacts digitally in one place.
As far as getting started with Twitter, I can specifically point to three reasons why I jumped on the bandwagon and started tweeting: 1) I watched the Social Media Revolution video by Erik Qualman and it gave me chills, 2) I worked with @srah in a previous position (if you are an international educator on Twitter and don’t follow @srah you really should), and 3) I experienced the excitement of “live-tweeting” last year at NAFSA’s Advocacy Day. The video got me interested, @srah gave me a crash course and showed me the ropes on best utilizing Twitter, and my live-tweeting during Advocacy Day showed me a very practical application for Twitter. To see more about how I used Twitter during Advocacy Day, please see the guest blog I wrote for David Comp’s IHEC Blog here.
A comment made during a conversation I was having with a colleague at the Tweet-up in Kansas City last year really put Twitter into perspective for me. The comment he made was this, "Twitter is whatever I want it to be and that’s why it’s so useful.” I couldn’t agree more. The ability to craft Twitter into what you want it to be makes it more versatile than some other social media formats.
End of Part One - More from Frank in the coming weeks!
Frank Merendino is the Sr. Admissions Officer for International Partnerships at the University of Cincinnati. He has presented or volunteered at NAFSA: Association of International Educators since 2007. He currently serves as the Region VI State Rep for Ohio and nationally as a member of the Leadership Development Committee. Frank holds a Bachelor's degree in Political Science and a Master's degree in Higher Education Administration from The University of Akron. You can follow him on Twitter at @Frankie_James.
If you are interested in being a guest blogger please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
This blog is all about social media. I hope to offer tips, tricks, advice and more on using social media within international education and international travel.