Social Media IS Professional Development
Communications has a bad rap. Long (and wrongly) suffering a “soft skill” or lower priority taint, it – at the same time – is considered a key leadership strength. What? The disconnect has harmed the practice, and even seeing it as a “practice” or separate role has harmed the integration of communication into EVERYONE’s job. Not to discount at all the importance of deeply trained marketing and communications professionals, but the power of their work is only further enhanced by more corporate leaders who can authentically (and comfortably) contribute.
Therein lies the rub. Social media has long been dropped into the “marketing and communications” budget – which is all fine and good, but limits its power. In reality, training corporate leaders to use social media for their own unique purposes is actually, wait for it… professional development. Learning what works for them and how to use it well – even if only a single channel – boosts a leader’s career and can reflect very well on the company he or she represents.
Along those lines, University of Sussex Digital History Professor Tim Hitchcock’s recent article about getting more academic researchers into blogging and on Twitter really strikes a chord. Both, in that I am one who’d love to see more in-process academic thinking delivered in layperson, accessible styles (so I can keep learning!), and in how the whole issue also relates to sustainability leaders – which is my particular soapbox. As Stuart put it: “As central means to participate in public conversations, Twitter and blogging just make good academic sense.” It is about public engagement, and not keeping conversations closed and “amongst ourselves,” because doing that means we lose the broader social dialogue.