Snap and Post Photos of Your Day to the ASHA Leader Instagram Contest

instagram blog 2Say “cheese!” The new ASHA Leader is commemorating its inaugural year by celebrating YOU. We’re putting together a book of photographs that showcase what our members do best—helping people communicate. And we want your Instagram photos to be a part of it!

Ah, Instagram. I never go on a walk without my phone/camera, just in case a moment presents itself. There’s a walking loop near ASHA’s headquarters that’s about a mile long, and on nice days it’s a great way to blow off some steam, get some fresh air and remember there is a world outside your cubicle. But it’s also inhabited by trees, birds, flocks of geese, various corporate buildings and some shockingly obnoxious D.C. metro intersections, all of which make great fodder for Instagram.

Maybe you do it, maybe you don’t, but unless you’ve been living in a cave in the wilderness, you’ve undoubtedly heard about Instagram. It’s a photo app that allows users to filter, modify, and edit their photos any way the imagination allows. Many Instagrams start out looking like any digital photo, but end up looking like anything from quirky postcards to beautiful pieces of art. Check out the app and download it to your phone at Instagram.com. Then hop on over to Webstagram online to see millions of snapshots of life from around the globe. For Instagram examples from the Leader staff, go to Webstagram and look under the hashtag #ashaigers. Hey, sometimes your inner artist works, sometimes it doesn’t, but it’s always fun to try!

Because it’s so cool and we know you all have great stuff to share, we want to see your Instagrams. We know you work hard, have fun and blow off steam—show us! We want to see Instagram photos of your typical day as a speech-language pathologist, audiologist or researcher. How do you start your day? What moments during the work day or after hours are especially meaningful? Joyful? Or even particularly frustrating? Be creative and unique with your camera shots—capture the essence of your day and the landscape in which you live it (search the hashtag #ashaigers to see some staff examples).

The dates of the contest are May 12-18. The theme is “A Week in the Life of the Professions.” Upload your photos (put whatever filters or edits on them as you see fit) and be sure to include the hashtag #ashaigers in the caption.

Don’t have Instagram? E-mail your photos to leader@asha.org with the subject line “Instagram” and we’ll upload them for you.

After May 18, we (the Instagram-delirious Leader staff) will select the most memorable photos for inclusion in an orderable book. We’ll also feature as many of those selected as we can in our July issue! Everyone included in the book will receive credit and recognition; through a random drawing, 20 contributors will receive a free copy.

And we’re going to keep the photo fun going after May 18, selecting from photos you continue uploading to #ashaigers for a new recurring “Glimpses” feature in The ASHA Leader.  So c’mon folks! Grab your cameras, fancy-frame your subjects and settings, and get snapping and uploading! We want the book to be a memorable, lasting revelation of one week in the lives of speech-language pathologists, audiologists and speech-language scientists making a difference.

#ashaigers

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Gary Dunham, is editor-in-chief of The ASHA Leader and can be reached at gdunham@asha.org.

Welcome from the Leader Team

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Recently, ASHAsphere became part of The ASHA Leader, joining a celebrated constellation of content for and about ASHA members, including The ASHA Leader Live e-newsletter as well as the print and online editions of the Leader. We at the Leader are delighted with this news, the first phase of a dastardly-but-so-elegantly-orchestrated master plan to annex the entire WorldWideInterWebs.

As these bold, mildly inspiring words spasmodically spew from my hunt-and-peck typing, phalanxes of Leader editors are on the march, blood-red pens in full brandish mode. No domain with the faintest acronymic whiff of CSD is safe from us—and that includes you, Community School of Davidson, North Carolina.

All kidding aside, welcome.

During the inaugural year of the brand spanking new ASHA Leader, ASHAsphere plays a crucial role in supporting the Leader’s renewed commitment to serve both as a valued source of information for ASHA members as well as an engaging showcase of your lives, interests and goings-on. Indeed, this blog’s been a preferred gathering place for many of you, an excellent, lively sounding board for noteworthy and trending topics.

We at the Leader strongly encourage you all to keep doing what you’re doing—discuss in depth, debate vigorously, share your experience and perspectives, and keep the questions coming. We’ll be dropping by every now and then with news, highlights of particularly useful articles, and, just perhaps, some astonishingly wry commentary.

I’ll be quiet now so you all can get back to your blog.

Gary Dunham, PhD, is ASHA publications director and editor-in-chief of The ASHA Leader.

Happy Peppy People at ASHA 2012

2012 ASHA Convention logo

“Hello friends. Are you tired, run-down, listless? Do you poop out at parties? Why don’t you join the thousands of happy peppy people…” at the 2012 ASHA Convention.  If this famous I Love Lucy script makes you think your convention experience thus far, then you are not alone.  Between walking from the Exhibit Hall to visit the vendors to checking out the NSSLHA Lounge and Poster Presentations, just navigating the convention can wear a person out.

Despite the many weary feet, the excitement from day 1 has been tangible. Waiting in line for coffee, finding the room number for sessions, or collecting your third Super Duper bag,  you can always find someone to share a conversation with. How often do you know everyone around you is an SLP or AUD, and feel comfortable discussing a therapy technique or a new iPad application while waiting in line?  The convention provides professionals from across the country opportunities to reconnect with colleagues and friends, refine intervention strategies and techniques, and renew the excitement and zeal for being “rainbows in the clouds” of our clients.

As a student, not only is attending sessions part of the allure of attending the convention, but meeting and networking with professionals who have knowledge and experience to share has been invaluable. Everyone I have met and shared a conversation with has been more than willing to relay tips for my SLP-CF job search or strategies for interviewing and negotiating a contract. I still get nervous before speaking with SLPs or AUDs, but I hope those I speak with remember what it felt like to be a student: Excited, nervous, stressed, overwhelmed, and just itching to finish our clinical internships. The convention is a chance for everyone to “nerd out” with other SLP students, professionals, professors, and researchers from across the world; it is like Christmas morning for me.

What was my favorite part of the 2012 ASHA Convention?

One of the highlights for me was meeting the SLPs, AUDs, and other student SLPs that I have met through Twitter over the past year. Many people are still apprehensive or unaware of the professional learning opportunities that wait by using Twitter with the #SLPeeps. Heidi Kay over at Pediastaff recruited some of the best SLPs who use social media as professional tools to create a Free Guidebook to help people get started. If you want to see how to use these tools, please check out the  easy to follow electronic book and start growing professionally with the #SLPeeps.

Another one of the highlights from the convention was hearing Dr. Maya Angelou speak at the opening session. Her powerful storytelling inspired me professionally and personally. She compared SLPs and AUDs to rainbows in the clouds. A rainbow speaks of promise and hope; I would like to think I can be that for my clients.  Her personal tale of selective mutism after a childhood trauma empowered me to always consider the perspective of my clients before jumping to conclusions.  She always had a story to tell; as Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists, accepting and establishing trust can impact how much of their story a client decides to share.

(Katie is one of the official ASHA Convention bloggers. These three bloggers were selected to blog about the ASHA Convention in exchange for complimentary registration. Stay tuned for more insights from her and the other bloggers before, during and after convention.)

 

Katie Millican, B.S. Ed., is a second year graduate student in Speech-Language Pathology program at the University of West Georgia (UWG). Katie is the current UWG local NSSLHA chapter President.  She is active with the #slpeeps and #slp2b on Twitter (@SLP_Echo) and on Pinterest, and she writes her own blog SLP_Echo: Just another SLP in the Making. Katie has a passion for using technology and sharing evidence-based ideas. 

Convention Must-Have: Twitter

I was really excited when I was selected to become an official ASHA blogger.  I blog anyway, so it was nice to get an official title.  I had planned on blogging a little everyday, but things have been crazy and before I know it, it’s time for bed.  I decided to go ahead and blog on Friday, the next to last day of the convention!

Throughout convention I kept hearing “how do you incorporate Twitter into therapy?” or “so how do you use Twitter?”  It seems there is either a lot of resistance to Twitter or people just really have no idea how to use it or how to get started.

Originally, I intended to write about my trip here, the sessions I attended, etc., but I think I’ll save that for later and instead write about Twitter.

I started my Twitter account about two or three years ago, around the time of my first ASHA Convention.  As much as I enjoyed the convention, I really didn’t socialize a lot or leave my hotel room other than to go  to sessions.   Through that convention, I started getting more involved in Twitter and started forming friendships there.

The 2011 convention was so much better having such a large group of friends to spend time with and share my ASHA Convention excitement.

This year has been a whole new experience.  I have a much larger group of friends, a really great roommate and amazing opportunities coming my way, all thanks to Twitter.   We had a great “Tweet up” this year with many new and familiar faces.  It’s always so nice to meet those people you’ve been talking to online.

How do I use Twitter?  I use it in so many different ways.   I ask and answer therapy questions through Twitter.  We have a whole network of SLPs called the #SLPeeps.  We have specialty people in various areas: literacy, fluency, technology, apps  and dysphagia.

I use Twitter to announce changes to my website, new blog posts, exciting news like earning my BRS-S, and to share links to videos or websites that I find relevant or interesting. I use it to share important information at ASHA from professional development sessions that I attend, or CEU events that I attend outside of ASHA.  If I find a really great session, I share that.  If I find a new product, I’m excited to talk about it and let others know.

So many people say they don’t have time for Twitter.  I can access Twitter on my phone and on my iPad, allowing me to post a Tweet any time of day.  I can post on Twitter in just a few minutes.  It’s really only as time-consuming as I allow it to be.

When I talk to people about Twitter, I tell them that’s it’s an excellent learning opportunity for me and a way that I have met many new friends that I may not have otherwise met.    I proudly wear my “I Tweet” and “#SLPeeps” ribbons on my badge and tell everyone who asks me about Twitter that it has been one of the most life-changing opportunities I have experienced.

(Tiffani is one of the official ASHA Convention bloggers. These three bloggers were selected to blog about the ASHA Convention in exchange for complimentary registration. Stay tuned for more insights from her and the other bloggers before, during and after convention.)

 

Tiffani Wallace,CCC-SLP, has been an SLP specializing in Dysphagia for over 11 years.  Tiffani has been very active in the social media world, creating 2 Facebook groups, Dysphagia Therapy Group and Dysphagia Therapy Group-Professional Edition.  Tiffani is also the co-author of the app Dysphagia2Go, available on iTunes.  She is preparing to travel nationally and speak on the topic of Dysphagia.  Tiffani writes a blog called Dysphagia Ramblings and is the author of www.dysphagiaramblings.com.  She is a 5 time ACE awardee and recently obtained her BRS-S.

Better Hearing & Speech Month Roundup Week 1

Happy Better Hearing & Speech Month! This May marks the 85th anniversary of Better Hearing and Speech Month (BHSM), a month dedicated to raising awareness about communication disorders and to promoting treatment that can improve the quality of life for those who experience problems with speaking, understanding, or hearing. ASHA offers many resources for BHSM, and with each passing year, more and more SLPs, audiologists, and others interested in CSD are using social media to share ideas for celebrating BHSM.

Twitter is a great way to hear what others are doing to celebrate BHSM. You can follow the #BHSM hashtag on Twitter or just bookmark this link and check it throughout the month to follow the conversations about BHSM on Twitter. We’ve also started a Better Hearing & Speech Month Ideas board on Pinterest, where we’ll be pinning/re-pinning resources and ideas we see throughout the month.

Each week throughout May ASHAsphere will be highlighting some of the blog posts and other resources we’ve found using these social media sources. Here are just a few of the many posts we’ve seen this week:

  • Christopher Bugaj, MA CCC-SLP, did his annual A.T. TIPSCAST podcast and accompanying blog post about language-based curriculum, dedicated to BHSM.
  • Dan P McLellan, CCC-SLP, did a post about BHSM in his new blog, Speechguy.
  • Stephanie Bruno Dowling, M.S. CCC-SLP, lists some BHSM resources on the Advance  Early Intervention Speech Therapy blog.
  • Canadian SLP Skye Blue Angus has a great May Month (Canada’s Speech and Hearing Month) photo of the day challenge on her blog, CREE-ZY, CRAZY SPEECHIE.
  • Lisa M. Geary, MS, CCC-SLP created printable information pages SLPs can share with parents, teachers and other educators, along with some other BHSM resources, on Livespeaklove.

Share your blog posts or other resources in the comments and we’ll continue sharing them each Thursday throughout May.

 

Maggie McGary is the online community & social media manager at ASHA, and manages ASHAsphere.

Fun Resource for Therapy Ideas: Pinterest

Pinterest

Photo by rasamalai

Social media sites are a dime a dozen these days, and there are only so many hours in a day, so keeping up with them all is impossible. But in terms of therapy ideas and just plain fun, Pinterest may be worth checking out. Never heard of Pinterest? You’re not alone–while it’s been around since 2010, the site is still in beta mode, requiring an invite to set up an account. However, you don’t need to set up an account or a profile to enjoy Pinterest–you can simply go to the site, type in a search term in the search box in the upper left-hand corner of the page, and you’ll be able to see and click through to any results that come up.

But sorry, I’m getting ahead of myself–what exactly IS Pinterest? According to Pinterest’s “about” page:

Pinterest is a virtual pinboard. Pinterest allows you to organize and share all the beautiful things you find on the web. You can browse pinboards created by other people to discover new things and get inspiration from people who share your interests.

That’s great, you may be thinking, but what does this have to do with CSD professionals? At first glance, nothing. But it just so happens that SLPs and other therapists and educators are “pinning” therapy ideas by the hundreds, making Pinterest an invaluable resource for therapy ideas and inspiration. If you go to Pinterest and search “SLP” or “fine motor” or “audiology” or any term you might be interested in, you’ll see what I’m talking about. Pediastaff has pinned an incredible number of therapy ideas grouped by topic, and features a “pin of the week” of the most popular therapy pins.

Want to start exploring Pinterest and need an invite? Leave a comment and I’ll send you one. Already on Pinterest and want to share your boards with ASHAsphere readers? Leave a comment with your Pinterest url (e.g. “http://pinterest.com/ashaweb“) so ASHAsphere readers can find and follow you. ASHA is just starting with Pinterest so we haven’t really started using it yet; however, we have set up an ASHAsphere board, starting with December’s posts, and plan to update it with new posts going forward.

If you are younger than 80 this post is for you

“Last call for Sunday dinner. If I don’t hear from you via FB or phone by  11 AM tomorrow I’ll take that as a no.”

Direct quote: My Grandma

Source: Facebook

My Grandma, Dee, is 76 years old. She unplugs the computer when it freezes  up (Dee, seriously, stop that). She always thinks someone is hacking her  account. She doesn’t want a phone with a camera. She is one of my most favorite humans on the Earth.

And…she Facebooks. She likes, comments, posts, tags, shares, LOLs, calls my mom her “BFF” -  she is a Facebook machine. A champion of Facebook, if you will.

76. Facebook. SEVENTY-SIX.

When ASHA-goers (who are younger than 76) have seen my “I Tweet” sticker it  has induced reactions of:

  • Camaraderie: “You tweet? Me too! What’s your handle?”
  • Judgment: “Oh. You tweet. (accompanied by ‘the face’)”
  • Awe: “You tweet? Coooool!”
  • Confusion: “You tweet. Whatsa tweet? Have I been twitting and didn’t know
    it?”

But they, and you, CAN TWEET! Among other things! It is not so hard! I PROMISE.

When I got on Facebook in 2006 it was about collecting friends, like Pogs or Pokemon (gotta catch ‘em all!). Who has the most friends? Who has the most tags?  Who likes the best bands? Who has the funniest quotes? – I think it has maintained that stigma so people have generalized this time-suck to ALL social media. This is an outdated view of social media, and it ages you when you act like you’ve never heard of “the Twitter.” While social media can still be used for silly, superficial functions (as well as being used to majorly creep on people), it and other sites, can be used for so much more.

Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google Plus, Hipster-Underground-Sites, blogs, ASHACommunity. These sites are used to facilitate sharing, educating, learning, AND (you CSD professionals should like this one!) COMMUNICATING.

Tonight in the West Terrace, Maggie McGary helped get all the #slpeeps and #audpeeps (people who use social media to share CSD information) in one place for the annual Tweetup. We didn’t do anything earth shattering, but it just goes to show that social media is slowly, but surely, proving that it can bring people together. As a profession we support communication and interaction! We are all coo-coo for cocoa puffs over apps and AAC. So why are we so scared of other technological avenues for communicating?

With the advent of smart phones, iPads, netbooks, wifi, and goodness knows what else – using social media is easy as a touch. With one finger. THE TIP OF ONE FINGER. A LIGHT TOUCH WITH THE TIP OF ONE FINGER.

I want to challenge all of you to use social media in SOME WAY this year. Advocate. Connect with your state or national associations. Advertise. Find a common ground with a client. Get to know an #slpeep. Share an interesting link. Then maybe next year we’ll see YOU at the Tweetup!

PS – I’m at the Hostel at Fifth and Market and I had 12 minutes of Internet. I wrote this by hand. OLD SCHOOL.

PPS- I’m addicted to ASHA. I’m never leaving. I will be continuing the conference after you all leave. You’re welcome to join me.

NP: I”ll Find a Hearing Aid for Ya

(Samantha is one of the official ASHA Convention bloggers! Stay tuned for more insights from her and the other bloggers before, during and after convention.)

 

Samantha Weatherford, B.A., is a second-year, speech-language pathology graduate student at Missouri State University in Springfield, MO.  She writes about speech-path and grad school on her blog, so to Speak. Does she think it is a coincidence that the first ever ASHA Convention was in St. Louis, MO, her beautiful hometown, and she chose to be an SLP? NOPE. FATE.

 

A New Way to Connect with Fellow Members: ASHA Community

Earlier this week, ASHA launched a new online community platform for members, ASHA Community. ASHA Community combines the functionality of traditional listservs, discussion forums and the member directory with new features like the ability to build your own network of professional contacts and link to your profiles on public sites like Linkedin, Facebook and Twitter. ASHA Community features granular privacy controls that let you control what information you share, subscription management that allows you to customize the way you prefer to receive updates, and resource libraries where you can share documents, audio and video files with other ASHA members. If you haven’t already checked it out, we encourage you to log in and check it out.

Here are five quick steps to get started:

  1. Complete your profile. If you have a Linkedin profile, you can easily import some or all information from that profile–including your photo.
  2. Customize your privacy settings, including your contact preferences.
  3. Subscribe to ASHA Discussion Groups, customize how you’d like to receive updates, and start posting comments.
  4. Browse or post content to the community library including documents, videos, and audio files.
  5. Find an ASHA Community Member to connect with using our online member directory.

If you have any questions, suggestions or need help, you can post a message to ASHA Community Feedback group.

We look forward to featuring discussions and resources from ASHA Community here on ASHAsphere.

Getting in on the Conversation: Tips to Get Involved in Twitter

A man huddles in fear from a squawking flock of twitter birds.

Photo by petesimon

(This post originally appeared on Lexical Linguist)

In my first post about using social media for a professional learning network (PLN), I introduced various forms of online media (mostly social media) that can be used to help speech, language, and hearing professionals create their own professional/personal learning networks. I then introduced Twitter by explaining the terminology you’ll encounter and a bit about the way Twitter works. Mary Huston then guest blogged on her intro to Linked In and has more in store for you on that topic at a later date. Right now, however, I want to get back to Twitter, since it has been the richest source of professional learning and collaborating for me.

There are some things you can do in order to get into Twitter and start using it to its fullest potential. I have listed my top 10 tips to get the most out of your experience. Some of these tips speak to gaining followers, but I want to be clear that you should never get caught up in how many people follow you. Twitter should not be a competition for followers for several reasons, but the biggest is that WHO is in your network is much more valuable than HOW MANY are in your network. Having more people following you is helpful because it gives you access to more connections, information, and makes crowd sourcing (i.e. posing a question to your community in the attempt to get multiple responses) much easier. However, you get more bang for your buck connecting with people in your profession who will stimulate and challenge you. Besides, just because someone has many followers, doesn’t mean that those followers aren’t spam or random people who don’t contribute to the community.

Have a real picture (called an avatar)

This picture doesn’t have to be of you, per se, although it is very helpful. The picture should, however, convey some sense of you to your followers. Please, please, PLEASE never leave the Twitter default egg as your avatar. You come off looking like spam or worse (not that there’s much worse than spam). I also consider it poor Twitter etiquette because you require your followers to be more vigilant about whether or not you are spam when you contribute to discussions. If you want to get more followers, ditch the egg.

Say something in your profile and give us a real name

This is especially important if you are using Twitter professionally in any capacity. I would say that lack of information in the ‘profile’ section is the number one reason I won’t follow people. Mainly, it’s because I don’t know if you’re worth following if I don’t know what you do or who you are. A brief description (e.g. ‘grad student in audiology’ or ‘SLP working in schools’) helps people to know who you are and why they should bother following you. I also suggest you include at least a general location such as province/state and country. It’s also nice if you can include your real first name (last name is more optional) so that people have a ‘real’ name to attach to you beyond your twitter handle.

Create a short, user- friendly handle

When you create your Twitter name, or handle, you should consider that people will hopefully be using it a lot. The best possible handle is your real name (e.g. @LNLeigh) or your first or last name with your job title (e.g. @SLPTanya). Please avoid long names when possible because your name takes away characters when people include it in tweets. Also, avoid strange characters like underscore or symbols at all costs – it is less user-friendly to type. Your handle, picture, and profile can work together to give people a flavor for yourself on Twitter (called branding). Give this some thought when setting them up. If you already have a Twitter handle and would like to change it, this is easily done. As an aside: if you are a speech therapist/pathologist, please avoid the word ‘speech’ in your handle – this has been flooded in our ‘market’.

Start tweeting

If you want to get into the game and start connecting with people you MUST start tweeting. Even if you have no followers and feel you are ‘talking to yourself’ you should be tweeting. Tweet relevant material such as links you found interesting and professional ideas or experiences you may have had. Before I follow someone, I usually check their previous tweets to see if they are ‘worth following’. A ready-made community such as the SLPeeps does allow for some leeway but signing up on the SLPeeps and Audiologists Twitter List will not automatically get you plugged into the community. At the time of writing this blog post, the audiologists do not yet have a centralized hashtag (that I can find) such as #SLPeeps to help create a cohesive community so it may be more difficult to plug yourself into that network without relevant tweets.

Retweet (RT) people

The BEST way to get people to notice you and to begin participating in the community is to retweet someone else. I frequently become aware of a new person worth following because they RTed me. It doesn’t guarantee you’ll be followed, but it certainly helps show your willingness to join the community. As I’ve said in a previous post, retweeting is very important to Twitter and RTing someone demonstrates to them that you are genuinely interested in their ideas and information, so much so that you feel it’s worth sharing again via RT.

Jump in on conversations (politely)

Twitter is a public forum so treat it like a party or giant convention room and join in on conversations at leisure. It’s not considered ‘rude’ to jump into a conversation, so long as you’re on topic and contributing to the conversation. You may want to start your first tweet with “butting in” to acknowledge you’re joining the conversation if you rarely tweet with the other tweeters, more as an introduction that you’ve joined. It’s also OK to just throw a link or resource that’s on-topic into the conversation and walk away again, although it’s better if you converse a little or acknowledge any tweets in response to your contribution. It is rude to bud into a conversation thread to plug your company, blog or similar in a random way, especially if you aren’t contributing to the conversation.

Tweet more than blog or company promotional tweets

It’s just not helpful to the community and in a social network, while networking is important, so is the social aspect. This means there must be give and take or sharing involved. If you are using Twitter SOLELY as a professional outlet for your company and your handle, profile, and picture proclaim this as such, it’s potentially OK. This is because people know what to expect when they follow you. However, I still urge you to participate in related discussions and provide tweets that go beyond promoting your company. @CASLPA is a great example of a ‘company Twitter account’ who also engages the related community. CASLPA is a professional organization that uses social media to maximize potential to connect with their members (and even their non-members). It’s the ‘social’ or relationship part that makes them so great at what they are doing on twitter.

Use hashtags to get noticed by people who aren’t following you

If someone is following a specific hashtag (e.g. #SLPeeps, #hearing, #slpchat, #audiology) they will see all tweets that include that hashtag (unless the person tweeting has protected their tweets). The #SLPeeps hashtag is probably the primary reason that SLPs on Twitter have been able to come together, grow, and create a very cohesive community. I often find people worth following because they tweeted with the #SLPeeps tag. Also, using tags appropriate to your conversation makes it easier to crowd source for information before you’ve amassed very many followers. You can add #SLPeeps to your tweet, for instance, and anyone following the #SLPeeps tweets will see your tweet as well, even if they aren’t following you.

Be unprotected (at least at the start)

Again, I can’t emphasize how important it is to keep your tweets public in order to develop your PLN. Many people won’t bother trying to follow you if your tweets are protected because they cannot see examples of what you’re tweeting. Also, it’s a hassle to request to follow and then ‘wait and see’ to add you to a list they may have created to make following certain types of groups easier (more on lists another time). Protecting your tweets may have its place, but when growing a PLN it is a hindrance rather than a help.

Engage with your network

People who contribute meaningfully to the community get followed. It’s as simple as that. This means put out tweets, join in on conversations, pose questions to your community and respond to tweets that mention you or are directed at you. Even when you have many people following you it’s best to make every effort to respond to people if they direct information or a question at you specifically. You need to be contributing to your PLN in order to grow it and gain value from it.

Don’t just take my word for it. Here are some other sources if you want to see more:

Follow Fail: Top 10 reasons I won’t follow you in return on Twitter

20 Twitter Tips for New and Experienced Tweeters

Tanya Coyle, M.Sc., S-LP(C), is a speech-language pathologist employed in schools in Southern Ontario, Canada, and also teaches part time at a local college. Tanya is a life-long learner who actively networks with other SLPs via social networking, is co-founder and co-moderator of the #SLPChat discussion groups on Twitter, and is co-founder of the SLPeeps Resource Share and SLP Goal Bank in Google Docs (if you’d like to be granted access to these documents you can contact Tanya on Twitter @SLPTanya. Tanya is also the author of the Lexical Linguist blog.

Communication in the 21st Century: Effective or Flawed?

The other day, I sent a text message to a friend and it read, “Ok I’m done just sitting around if I can help out let me know.” After I sent the message, I re-read it and realized that I had sent the wrong message. What I meant to say was, “I’m done. Just sitting around. If I can help out, let me know.” There is a world of a difference between the first message and the second message. The first sounds like I’m frustrated with sitting around and I want to do something about it. The second one sounds like I just finished what I was doing and now I’m sitting around. If I can help out, I’m available. This text message is not the first and won’t be the last text that sends the wrong idea. Everyday, more and more people are using text messages, instant messages, social networking sites and e-mail to communicate with one another. Everyday, fewer and fewer people choose to meet in person or even pick up the phone.

When we have a face-to-face conversation with someone, we have a number of factors that help us get the message across. We have our eye contact, body language, vocal inflection and most importantly, the ability to correct a miscommunication immediately. Over the phone, conversations still have the vocal inflection and ability to correct a miscommunication. With a text message, you simply have typed words, often with poor grammar, and the way your message will be interpreted is at the mercy of the one receiving the message. At least we have emoticons that allow us to set the tone of the message.

So if face-to-face communication at its best is still challenging, what hope is left for us who choose to communicate via text messages, instant messages, email and social networking sites? How can we be sure that we are communicating effectively? It is important that we take effective communication into consideration when we send a text or instant message. We can start by simply proof reading our text messages to ensure that we are sending the clearest message possible. But more importantly, at some point, it would be wise to check in either over the phone or face-to-face with the person we are texting, to make sure that there wasn’t a communication breakdown. Use of emoticons helps as well. ;)

Hand holding smart phone

Tina Babajanians, M.S. CCC – SLP, is a speech language pathologist working in Los Angeles, California. She works in variety of settings including elementary schools, full-time and hospitals, per-diem. Her passion is voice therapy and she is working on launching a private practice that specializes in the treatment of voice and resonance disorders. You can visit her website and find her on Twitter @lavoicetherapy.