I watch the #SAchat feed with some regularity and have noted what seems like an increase in people asking for professional advice. Last night I tweeted the following question:
I received some great responses from people in the community, including Brian Root:
My supervisor and I discussed this at length earlier in the week after I noted in conversation how many solicitations I was seeing for paper or presentation topics, requests for advice on handling specific situations on campus, and calls for help with preparing for campus interviews. I laud Twitter for the ability to gather information quickly, particularly sending out a request for best practices, but I’m admittedly uncomfortable when it feels like I’m being asked to do someone’s job.
After thinking it about it more overnight — and letting the responses marinate a bit — I tweeted this earlier today:
This is what it boiled down to me: I’m happy to provide feedback. I’ll proofread a cover letter, review a presentation, offer suggestions for beefing up a program proposal, share resources. I want to hear the initiator’s ideas and plan before I share my own experience. And Deb Schmidt-Rogers nailed it on the head:
In my discussion with my supervisor, we talked about how ultimately the responsibility still falls on the employee. Even if 17 people on Twitter agreed about the best way to handle a situation, those 17 people don’t receive performance appraisals from your institution and aren’t accountable to your supervisor or your students. Additionally, the kindness of those trying to help is limited to 140 characters; they don’t have the full scenario or situation and are filling in gaps in information with their own assumptions about what the situation is and what’s already been done.
What now? My unsolicited tips for more effectively using Twitter as a resource:
- Ask for someone with whom to talk — e.g. I’m looking for someone who has developed a residential curriculum in #reslife. Anyone willing to chat? #SAchat
- Show you’ve done your work — e.g. I’m submitting an article on living-learning communities. Is there anyone willing to read a draft? #SAchat
- Be a partner in the project — e.g. I’m brainstorming outdoor concert ideas for spring. Can we schedule a G+ Hangout for people to share ideas? #SAchat
How do you use Twitter to seek advice or feedback for professional purposes?