One highly emphasized point during my time at Michigan State has been: Make sure to put yourself “out there.” What exactly does that mean? For me that meant establish connections with peers, graduate students and professors in order to gain advice and relationships that could help further my career. Before email, interactions were face-to-face and a student had to schedule meetings with professors at their university to form relationships. In 2015 we are way passed only using email; laboratory websites, Google+, LinkedIn and Twitter allow us to form a broader network. For me, Twitter had always been intimidating because it was another personal account to manage. It wasn’t until I attended the Plant Biology 2015 conference in Minneapolis, MN that I realized Twitter was an excellent resource to get in touch with others at the conference and those with similar interests.
For all of those new to Twitter, here are some tips based on what I’ve learned thus far:
- Don’t get too hung up on your “handle.” The beauty of Twitter is that you can remain almost completely anonymous, or use your full name—it is your choice! Most people use some form of their first and last name as their handle, and list their name in their profile. If you’re on the nerdy side like me, you can use a creative science-derived handle…I’m @OKmicrobe because @Kmicrobe was taken.
- Where should you start after creating an account? Customize your profile by selecting a profile picture and a background photo. Next, you can search your friends or search for specific hashtags (e.g. #Ebola) to see who is tweeting about a variety of subjects. Once you find interesting tweets, follow the authors and you’ll find their tweets and tweets from who they follow.
- Most others on Twitter are friendly. If they like what you have to say, they will retweet you even if they don’t know you personally. This isn’t like Facebook where you feel obligated to only comment on posts by good friends.
- Be yourself. There is a lot more personality infused into Twitter than compared to LinkedIn, for example. You can assess personalities on Twitter before actually meeting people in person based on what they post and how often they post.
- Just do it. The maximum post length is 140 characters, which means you will get really good at writing concisely (this is a useful skill for all scientists to have). The more you post, the easier it will become.
Good luck and have fun! I hope to see many new tweets 🙂
-Katherine (Katie) Wozniak, @OKmicrobe