Darci Harland uses the term “digital colleagues” (DC) within research to support similar mentalities of the value of these online relationships attributed to working and collaborating during the COVID-19 pandemic.
2. Blend professional and personal
I strongly suggest having a relaxed presence within social media–one that honors our professional work while acknowledging that we are people with real lives. In the past, I kept siloed profiles to make sure that my personal and professional lives didn’t mix, that my professional communications were spotless, and that my digital footprint was as clean as possible. As I grew confident in the profession, understood social media more, and cultivated a group of online connections, I stopped and shifted my efforts over to my main accounts.
Blending professional and personal accounts allows one to share their authentic self and not perpetuate “the best life ever” mentality—the one that sometimes seeps into Instagram and Pinterest posts, that can slowly distort our perceptions of reality, and that can erode our self-perceptions of our own lives. This shift has also allowed me to make connections over personal interests, professional colleagues, fun events, and lifestyle choices that make the people we connect with real people.
3. Ask questions
This can be the most daunting. I didn’t want to look dumb. I didn’t want to look uneducated. I didn’t want to look like I didn’t know how things work. For quite some time I wouldn’t ask questions–and phew, that was the wrong approach.
When I started asking questions (even about things I already knew), I noticed that I started sparking discussion, sparking divergent thinking, and sparking new connections. I realized that, while I might have “looked dumb” to others, I didn’t care because I wanted to know more, and if I had questions, others did, too. This is something that is often shared with students in classrooms, yet I think it was challenging for me because I was publicly asking for help (which is challenging even in small groups) and that I knew the post would live on forever. Disclaimer: I am still working in this one!
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