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Using Social Media as an Academic Resource: Conference, Connections and the Job Market

We have all heard the reports about how bad social media can be for mental health and wellness. I personally try to detox from social media every couple of weeks (for me, this means deleting apps from my phone for a weekend). But social media can also be used as a resource in academia. There are three main ways I recommend using social media to your advantage. This includes a way to make connections, discover conferences and begin your job market search. In particular, Twitter and LinkedIn are extremely useful for each of these undertakings. 

If you haven’t already done so, take thirty minutes and create a LinkedIn profile. The professional networking platform is not only for those actively looking for a job, first and foremost, it is a great place to make and maintain professional connections. Each time you receive a colleague’s business card, search for their name on LinkedIn and reach out to them there – that is a much better way of keeping in touch than adding the card to your ancient rolodex. I would also recommend following think tanks, organizations, companies, and leading thinkers in your field of research on LinkedIn. Announcements about conferences, workshops, talks, and, of course, job openings, can be found here. While many announcements are made on LinkedIn, there is often information about joining email lists that provide you with access to information about the state of the field without having to actively search for it.  

I once heard Twitter described as “the new LinkedIn.” I would argue that there are still great things to gain from LinkedIn, but Twitter certainly has its strengths. Foremost, is the ability to follow along with many of the top researchers in your field and learn about authors you may not have heard of previously. Twitter’s suggestions of people to follow has helped me to expand my network of scholars and connect with people around the world who work in similar areas. I have also followed research networks, discovered interest-specific conferences and workshops, observed jobs posted by fellow academics and kept tabs on newly released articles.  

A quick caveat: both Twitter and LinkedIn can become incredibly overwhelming and oftentimes bring up feelings of inadequacy, be overwhelming and frustrating. Make sure to do your due diligence and if you are beginning to negatively compare yourself to colleagues on LinkedIn or spend too much time “doomscrolling” on Twitter, it is time to turn off the app and take a step back. These apps are only useful as academic resources if they are not doing additional harm. Always put your care first. If you’re careful and diligent, these websites can be incredibly useful to your academic journey.

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