LinkedIn Isn’t the Yellow Pages: How teachers can use it as a PLN

Guest post by Luz Chavez

LinkedIn has the potential to be Facebook for professionals if more people would stop using it like the yellow pages. It’s not enough to be listed. To maximize it as a PLN, you need to connect, contribute, and engage.

Connect

Connecting on LinkedIn is like exchanging business cards. Beyond connecting with colleagues, expand your digital rolodex by connecting with:

LinkedIn network

Your Home page shows your connections at a glance

  • LinkedIn group members: Once you join a group, you’ll notice who sticks out above the rest. They’re the ones who consistently share valuable insight and news.
  • Presenters: Experts who impressed you at conferences are likely to provide some of the most insightful posts on your feed.
  • Teachers at other schools: Did you exchange war stories with a teacher at a seminar? Stay connected on LinkedIn

    LinkedIn notes

    Click a connection and add notes to remind your how you met.

  • Strangers with similar interests. Don’t be afraid to connect with someone you don’t know. If you use your common sense, the connection can be fruitful.

    LinkedIn connections

    Click a connection to see how many connections you have in common.

• Familiarity: How many mutual connections do we have?

• Influence: Does the person have hundreds of connections or Twitter followers?

• Legitimacy: How well-known is the person’s place of employment?

Also, LinkedIn allows you to:

  • Follow companies, such as education organizations, professional development groups, and school districts.
  • Follow channels in Pulse, your very own personalized newspaper in LinkedIn.LinkedIn pulse
  • Join a group. There are tons of LinkedIn groups for educators that allow you to engage in discussions with fellow educators. Use specific search terms to find the perfect group for you.LinkedIn groups

Contribute  

What you share defines who you are, so choose wisely and keep it professional. Share:

  • lesson plans that worked well
  • new apps or websites you are using with your students
  • resources that worked (or didn’t)
  • questions or requests for information (“Can anyone recommend a great bilingual ebook for third graders?”)
  • important or breaking education news

Choose a level of engagement (either posting a few times a day or a couple of times a week) and be consistent. That way you avoid falling off people’s radar. 

Engage

  • Comment! In order to learn, you need to put yourself out there. Comment on posts and participate in group discussions. You’ll learn a lot more than if you sit back and watch others craft and exchange ideas.
  • Endorse. Is your colleague an expert in troubleshooting tech issues at your school? Show your appreciation and let the world know with a quick click of a button.
  • Recommend. Is there a colleague who’s the go-to person for formative assessment tips? Recommend her. It doesn’t have to be long. Three sincere and specific sentences suffice.

Still want to be a lurker?

Then LinkedIn can be your personalized professional library, where you get the latest news from the companies, people, and groups you connect with.

Stay tuned for the next part in this PLN series: Getting the Most Out of Twitter!

Luz Chavez is a consultant for Green Light Professional Development.

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