MORE: Clearly marketers, retailers and journalists need to know social media, but what are some other careers that should also be taking advantage?
JP: There is so much content being pushed onto social media platforms that almost anyone, in any field, can find useful sources and relevant information that can help them. For example, if you are a research scientist and can't travel to a conference, you can probably follow the conversation on Twitter and get links to presentations by finding out the hashtag that is being used. There are some fields, of course, where using social media is tricky. I think that it can be very tricky for teachers, for example, and I wrote a story last December about how school boards across the country were looking at putting in social media policies to help provide guidance for educators. While these tools are enormously powerful in the classroom and can help teachers engage with students, they can also present problems for teachers sharing information about their private lives.
MORE: Finally, what's your biggest piece of advice for women just starting out with Twitter, LinkedIn or other social media services?
JP: You can't learn how to use these tools without using them. So find a friend to help you get started and dive in. For Twitter, I would recommend three steps. After setting up an account, the most important thing to do is to figure out who to follow and what accounts will bring you the most value. After watching for a few weeks how people use Twitter, figure out what you want to say on it. Why are in you in the space? What is your goal? Then start sharing links and retweeting Twitter posts that you find interesting and that support your goal. Remember, always bring value. Listen. And when you engage with people on Twitter, be social. Remember your good manners. Be generous. Be kind.
People in the social space—and people you meet at social media workshops and online programs—are very generous. Ask, and they will help you. Once you learn your way around, you will help the next person climbing onboard.