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Twitter: Your tool for connecting at conferences

Recently, at the H5P conference in Melbourne, I won a prize for Most Prolific Tweeter. I had the most tweets (I believe including retweets and replies) that had the #h5pcon2018 hashtag. While it was fun to win a prize for this, I believe I tweeted only slightly more than my usual conference frequency. And I think you need a Twitter account and some tweet-savvy before your next conference.

Twitter is my conference networking tool of choice. It’s quite different from other social media in that you can’t possibly read it all. Reading a Twitter stream is like drinking from a fire hose. My Twitter feed is flooded with messages, and I’ll only ever read a handful them. I’ve met many people who are turned-off the tool because of that.

But Twitter is more like a conversation at a cocktail party. You don’t try to be a part of every conversation. You mingle and listen in from time to time to get an interesting thought or a little piece of gossip. And you can tune out of the conversations that you have no interest in. In all honesty, between conferences my Twitter account hardly gets used.

With so many messages being sent on Twitter, you need a way to filter out these messages. That’s where the hashtag comes in. Hashtags are a way to quickly search these Twitter conversations for a topic you’re interested in engaging with. Most conferences you attend will have a hashtag. Search and follow that hashtag on Twitter and you’ll see your fellow conference attendees tweeting along with you.

How Twitter is used at conferences

Scott, Julian and Leanne
Scott (@kshuntley) poses for a photo with fellow H5P Tweeters Julian (@juliandavis71) and Leanne (@leannengo). Twitter is a great tool for building your professional network at conferences.

Often conference attendees will live-tweet the talks. This could be a way of notetaking for them, and it’s almost a collaborative notetaking exercise. Everyone tweeting is adding their impressions of the talks, noting what’s important from their viewpoint. This can enrich your takeaways as you see the event through other eyes.

There is also a benefit of seeing the tweets from the talks you can’t attend. While it’d be great to be in two places at once, sometimes you can read the tweets from a talk you couldn’t make and still get the key points. In fact, often people will follow the stream from conferences they can’t attend. I was tweeting from H5P Conf knowing I had an H5P fanatic friend who could not attend, and she was grateful for every new announcement from the H5P core team that we passed along.

Conference attendees also use Twitter to pose questions to the presenters. A good presenter will use Twitter to promote their talk, provoke thought and discussion and generally build excitement in the audience before their talk. They will also check the hashtag after their talk and respond to questions or comments; it’s a good way to build a connection between presenter and audience. An extremely clever presenter might even use scheduling tools to schedule tweets during their presentation to spark discussion to their key points.

And if you follow the conference hashtag, you’ll see your fellow attendees having these discussions about the talks. It could be an affirmation or a rebuttal to something in the speakers’ presentation. Replying could start an interesting conversation. You’re on your way to adding another node to your professional network!

One desirable outcome of my tweet-frenzy at H5PCon2018 was by the end of the conference, people knew me. The recognised my Twitter handle, recognised me from my profile photo, visited my blog and came over to meet me during the breaks. I raised my professional profile by being an active tweeter. This building of your network can thus be active – responding to others’ tweets – or passive – posting interesting tweets that makes others want to seek you out.

While you might not be a regular social media user, I highly recommend you add Twitter to your bag of tricks. It’s an invaluable networking tool. I hope to see you challenge my Most Prolific Tweeter title at the next academic conference we attend!

Upcoming Asia Pacific Moots

MoodleMoot Japan will be happening this week! The Shizuoka Institute of Science and Technology plays host from February 27 to March 1. It might be a little unrealistic to start your plans now, but follow the #MootJP19 hashtag to find out what’s happening in the Japanese Moodle scene.

MoodleMoot Philippines has been announced for May 8 to 10. There are more details being announced on their website every day. This will be the second Moot in the Philippines.

MoodleMoot Australia will be held in Melbourne on July 1 to 3. Earlybird tickets are available until May 31, and the Call for Presentations is open now.

Scott Huntley
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Scott Huntley

Kenneth "Scott" Huntley is an Instructional Designer with Transport for NSW and WordPress instructor with The Parramatta College. Scott is a Canadian (Nova Scotian) Expat living in the Southern Highlands of Australia. Scott is a Moodle enthusiast and an Internet of Things hobbyist.

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