One of the most important parts of my world is my PLN. Networking has become almost as essential to me as breathing. This was something I wanted to share and inspire in my students. In addition to modeling life-long learning and Twitter connections in my classroom on a daily basis, I used a career unit in 8th grade computer class to demonstrate the value of having a strong network to my students.
Here's the process we went through:
1. We created class Twitter accounts. I did not follow their accounts, but many of my students opted to create new accounts for class purposes - this told me that they understood the value of having a "professional" persona versus a personal persona. For me, these were one and the same. For teenagers, that wasn't necessarily the case.
2. I asked them to think about their career units from guidance class, their passions, and their personal goals and ambitions to make a list of top career choices they wanted to explore. When they had their list, we set about finding personal and professional blogs around their choices. I wanted some personal blogs so they could see how the career path impacted day-to-day living for the people who worked in those areas. At the time, we just read and favorited their blogs. Now, I would recommend using something like Feedly to organize their lists.
3. We searched for companies and professionals on Twitter for them to follow. We talked about what sorts of things were tweeted out, whether it was more professional or more personal, and how social media might impact their job.
4. With my help, we connected with someone they followed on Twitter (or a connection I found through Twitter) and did a video chat with a professional in their career choice area. Allowing them to have a face to face conversation enabled them to ask questions, put a face to the blog or Twitter handle, and make a personal connection.
5. Finally, the students wrote about their own goals, who they are online, and how they might be perceived in a digital environment.
Since then, I've been doing some digging on personal branding, and Emily Whitehead (@mrsewhitehead) shared an idea that I think I would use as the culminating piece (or maybe as bookends to the process). She recommended having students do a Google search of themselves or a partner, write a logo, create an icon, & tagline that represents what was found - then have students reflect on their brand. After students have thought about themselves as a brand, have them do the activity again for who they WANT to be, and follow it up as a conversation about how to get there.
How are you talking to your students about networking and branding?