The barrier to accessing expert information, without any time lag, is smaller than ever. Yet most people use social media to communicate with people in their immediate friend group. Those conversations are better left private, in texts and phone calls or in apps like Cyberdust.
If the goal of going to college is to learn to be a professional, an expert, and to use that expertise to find a joyful professional life, then it’s best to read the experts on making yourself marketable to employers (Jon Acuff), lifehacking and health (Tim Ferriss), science (Neil DeGrasse Tyson), food (Alton Brown), money (Farnoosh Tarobi / Dave Ramsey), music (Steve Hyden).
The point is whatever you’re passionate about--there are others out there equally as passionate, people sharing their expertise day-to-day on Twitter, Instagram, their personal blogs, podcasts, etc.
There’s immense value in leveraging your online presence toward professionalism and leaning away from an online presence that’s personal. Not all knowledge is housed in college walls. One day you’ll leave though your access to expertise will not. It’s important to build a network of experts and read them consistently, not only for the purposes of classwork but to join the conversation with them.
Maybe one day you’ll be the Roger Bennett, Ira Glass, or Matt Drudge?
Check out the video below on how to begin thinking about where to start any writing project.
Then check out the information boxes below for some ideas of tools to build a PLN and how to use it to generate writing project ideas.
Some people use Twitter to post grainy pictures of the sandwich they had for lunch. Or they post insignificant, coded rants. Don't follow these people. Using Twitter to have a public conversation with your friends is a pretty bad idea. Others use Twitter to broadcast the best of what they're written and read. Definitely follow these people, read the articles they post and favorite their tweets to archive information. You can use Twitter to your advantage without publically tweeting at all.
If your goal is to be an expert in a visual field (design, marketing, art) perhaps Instagram is a more useful social media tool. Send out artistic photos and follow the designers / artists you admire. You'll connect daily with amazing art and get in the habit of shipping your work. If your art stays in your room--did it really happen?
Another useful craft, design and fashion social media tool is Pinterest. It's a go-to spot for anyone looking to pin recipes, personal fitness strategies, and makeup hints. It's equally as visual as Instagram with links out to more descriptive content.
Another way to curate expert articles is by developing a blog reader. These sites (such as BlogLovin) allow you to enter the websites / blogs you'd like to follow. Every time there's a new post to one, you're alerted in your email. If you can fall down the rabbit hole that is Twitter--a blog reader is for you. Go to your blog reader once a day. Check out if the blogs you like have been updated. It's how I start every day so I don't kill two hours scrolling through Twitter.
Maybe the fastest growing way to gather expert content is by finding the experts podcasting in whatever field you love. Podcasts are basically online radio shows, about 20-50 minutes in length, that you can subscribe to using your iPhone's Podcast app or websites like SoundCloud. The great part of podcasts is usually the host has a guest. Then you can follow the guests on Twitter and generate another PLN member.
YouTube is a great source for creative and instructional content. There are experts in every field updating real-time expertise to YouTube. Find these experts, subscribe to their YouTube or Vevo channel. Or create your own YouTube channel, develop your own expert content and use the video as a supplement to your written work.