The Value of Being Active on Social Media in L&D

What value can learning and development folks get from being more active on social media? Well one opportunity is to talk with people like Mike Taylor from Mike-Taylor.org about all of the cool things he finds on the internet. You can also geek out with Brian Washburn about all things training and development, or Heather Snyder about eLearning design and development. You can virtually talk to anyone in our industry with a quick post.

In this week’s podcast, we talk to Mike Taylor about how he found his way into social media and how he now uses it as a tool for himself and to share information with others. On our 22nd episode on the Train Like You Listen podcast, we learn more about how to get started with social media, who to follow, and what effect it can have on networking in-person.

Listen using the player below. Please leave us your thoughts in the comment section or on twitter @train_champion.

Transcript of the Conversation with Mike Taylor

Brian Washburn: Welcome, everyone to the Train Like You Listen podcast, a podcast of learning and development stuff in bite-sized chunks. I’m Brian Washburn, co-founder and CEO of Endurance Learning, and I’m joined here by Mike Taylor. Mike, this is our second time that we had a chance to talk with you. So people know you, hopefully, a little bit. [Editor’s Note: Check out How to Approach Training Like a Marketer.]

6-Word Introduction

Brian Washburn: But why don’t we jump in to six-word biographies that describe us a little bit, and also align with our topic today, which is, what value can learning & development folks get from being more active on social media?

My six-word biography for today is, “people I’ve met online complete me”. Do you have a way to describe yourself really quickly for our audience?

Mike Taylor: Yeah, sure. I love yours, by the way, that’s really fantastic. Mine is maybe a bit haiku-ish. So it is “ask, learn, share, connect with people”.

Brian Washburn: Nice. I like the artistry of the biography.

Mike Taylor: (CHUCKLING) That’s all I got, no more art. I’m done for the year.

Brian Washburn: Mike, you are one of the most active learning & development professionals I know on social media. There are posts every day on Twitter, LinkedIn. How did you get started with social media?

Using Social Media for the First Time

Mike Taylor: I wish I could claim a grand master plan, so it’s definitely more of the stumbling- upon-it kind of thing. It’s evolved over time, just accidentally. I can still remember, I think 2007, signing up for Twitter. And I had an account for a year or two and I just had no idea, like, “what do I do with this thing?”

It really changed for me. I read something that, I can’t remember exactly who it is, maybe John Stepper or somebody like that who’s the Working Out Loud ideas. I’m sure it’s one of those people. Something flipped in my brain that I got this sense of, well, if I find something that’s helpful for me, there’s probably a lot of other people who do similar work that this might also be helpful for.

And once I arrived at that mindset, it’s not that I’m sharing to be bragging or boastful or building a brand, it’s nothing like that. I’m just sharing to be helpful. And that feels very different to me, and I’m really willing to do it in that type of a sense. And so I’m really curious and I read a lot, so I’ve got time every morning. I’ve evolved this sort of efficient process over the years of, I can keep up with a whole lot of stuff pretty efficiently. And when I see something that’s helpful for me, that’s my lens, and I will click a button and share it in a few places.

Brian Washburn: The truth of the matter is, when you talk about things like Twitter and signing up in the early years, I didn’t see a point. It was 140 characters.

Mike Taylor: Yeah.

Brian Washburn: What can you get out of that? And then when I started to use it, doing things like Tweetchats and LearnChat and GuildChat and things like that, I started to meet other professionals. And that’s actually where I had a chance to connect with you. It was either through Twitter or LinkedIn or something like that, and we’ve been connected for years. We even planned a presentation at one of the big training conferences without actually having met in person.

So, my own testimonial to being active on social media, I think is borne out just by the connection that I have with you in this conversation. Why do you think it’s important that other L&D professionals are active on social media?

Why Is Being Active on Social Media Important?

Mike Taylor: Well, it’s just what you just said right there, those personal connections. It’s been an incredibly rich source of learning and personal connections for me. And I don’t think that you and I are alone in that, I think it’s just you’ve got to do it and dive in. Because I don’t think anybody can really explain that to somebody and have others get it without actually doing it. It’s something that you really got to get hands-on and do. I know Twitter, for example, was number one on Jane Hart’s annual survey for seven or eight years. I think it’s still in the top three, so that’s a global perspective that there’s value there.

Brian Washburn: Yeah, absolutely. And Jane Hart, for those who aren’t familiar, puts out a list on the 100 most important technology tools for learning every year. And so that’s what Mike’s referencing here. But when it comes to not just, kind of, interacting socially, and maybe that’s actually part of the answer but, how can people actually gain value by being more active on social media?

Gaining Value By Being Active on Social Media

Mike Taylor: I can still remember the first time I went to a LearnChat, it was almost like this out of body experience. It was amazing. I thought, holy cow, I have found my people. They speak the same language, they’re facing the same challenges, they’re coming from the same perspective. And it’s really energizing, not very many times in your life do those sort of things happen where you find that kinship, I guess I would call it.

Brian Washburn: Especially if you’re working in a smaller organization, where you might be at a team unto yourself. Or maybe you’re working with a couple of other folks who are in HR, who are in training. Absolutely, the idea of stumbling upon a whole vast network of people who you didn’t even know exist and talk the same language, it’s pretty cool. Is it OK to simply be a lurker, in your opinion, or should everyone challenge themselves to be interacting and sharing things as well?

Is It OK to Be a Lurker on Social Media?

Mike Taylor: I think it’s absolutely OK to be a lurker. I think we all probably start in that mode and some of us may be a little bit quicker to sort of progress out of that. One of the things that I tell people all the time is, you don’t have to be a genius to share things. If you’re always learning, then you always have things to share. And you can just be yourself, right?

You don’t have to invent the great new idea but if you read it somewhere, you can help spread the word and share it. So, there’s a lot of value that you never have to send a tweet or anything like that, you can still get value for it. But I think most people who are really interested and tuned in, I think a lot of those people will eventually sort of evolve to become comfortable with sharing.

I still remember going to one of my first conferences, I looked out the hotel window and there was a bunch of people around the pool and I said, oh, there’s Jane and David and Tom and like, I had to stop myself. I’m like wait a minute, you’ve never met those people before, but I felt like I already knew them.

Brian Washburn: That is so true. And I say the same thing anytime I go to a conference, even though I’m going on my own, I’m the only person from my company going, it’s almost like I have a bunch of people at this conference that I’ve already met. Which makes it just a better learning experience, as well as a social experience.

Mike Taylor: It’s this really cool headstart that you get with people, it’s amazing.

Brian Washburn: Absolutely. For people who are listening right now and thinking either, I’m just not into Twitter, or Instagram, or there are so many platforms out there, which I choose? What advice do you have to help them get started?

Advice for Getting Started on Social Media

Mike Taylor: I think the best way is everybody has their must-read or go-to people or sources. If you saw somebody speak at a conference or you saw a TedTalk or read a book that you found really valuable, go and look them up. If they’re on Twitter, follow them on Twitter. If they’re on Instagram, follow them on Instagram.

Do it from the sources you want to follow first and see where they’re at. That may be more productive than starting with the platform and working the other direction. Everybody’s got that these are the three people that, if they’re saying something, I want to hear it. And that’s what I would go with is just look them up, because most people like that are sharing in some form.

Brian Washburn: That’s such a great point, and that’s one of the things that social media has allowed me to do. I feel closer to those thought leaders who I’ve read their book or I’ve seen their TedTalk. And when I’ve connected with them on Twitter or LinkedIn, I’ve actually been able to interact with them, which is something that I would never have been able to do in person, but because the world is much smaller through the social media. And some people have tons of followers and can’t interact with everybody but others, you’ll be surprised who you have a chance to interact with and pick their brain. And just have a conversation and nerd out over your favorite topic.

Mike Taylor: Yeah. And especially in our field, I think people are so open and willing to share and help other people, that’s even better in our field than others. So, definitely agree with that.

Brian Washburn: So, Mike we have come to the end of another one of these podcasts but before we go, I have a few more speed round questions for you. They’re going to be a little different than last time you faced the speed round. Are you ready for this?

Mike Taylor: I’m ready as I’m going to get.

Brian Washburn: What is your favorite social media platform for professional development?

Mike Taylor: I’ll say Twitter.

Brian Washburn: Why is that?

Mike Taylor: Events like LearnChat and the people that are there. I hate to use the term “thought leaders”, but I guess I can give that to others. People who are really experts and at the front edge of our field. Some of the people that I would call friends now, that would’ve never happened without Twitter. There’s just no way it’s possible. So the amount of learning and personal connection that you can make, I think it’s just really impossible to beat anywhere else.

Brian Washburn: I agree. So we talked about social media for professional development, what is your guilty pleasure social media platform that just, kind of, sucks up your time?

Mike Taylor: Yeah, so probably same answer. Right, so I can be on Twitter in productive, learning, connecting mode. But I can also sometimes get lost, for design elements is where I can get lost on icons and designs and vector images and PowerPoint slide design. Like I can just get lost and browse that stuff forever.

And then the other thing that’s been sucking my time, lately I’ve been kind of hooked on this whole no code movement of building apps and connecting different tools through no code programs.

Brian Washburn: Yeah.

Mike Taylor: So that’s, I wish I could just quit my job and do that full time. (LAUGHING)

Brian Washburn: (LAUGHING) You know, Mike, on your website there are tons of resources. Speaking of all of these different things, whether they’re fonts or stock images or things like that. Can you remind people how they can find you, and all the different resources that you offer?

Mike Taylor: My website is mike-taylor.org. I’m pretty active on Twitter and LinkedIn. I’ve got a newsletter I send out every Friday that’s kind of the top things that I’ve read and found and shared that week, which is free for anybody who would like to get a copy of that. Yeah, if anybody is listening and can use any help with learning strategy or anything around learning programs like that, feel free to give me a shout and I’m pretty easy to find and always happy to talk about those things.

Brian Washburn: Well Mike, thank you so much for giving me some time once again here on the Train Like You Listen podcast. For all of our listeners, thank you so much for listening for one more week. And if you would like to subscribe to our podcast you can do that on Spotify, you can do that on iTunes, or iHeartRadio, or wherever you get your podcasts. Thank you so much for listening, and we’ll talk to you next week.

This week’s podcast is sponsored by Soapbox.  Sign up today for a free demo at soapboxify.com.

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