Building Your PLN

There's quite a BUZZ around the acronym {PLN} these days.  However, you may be one of the many people who has no idea what these three letters really mean!  Let me help...

What exactly IS a PLN?
PLN stands for Professional (or Personal) Learning Network.  People have always had learning networks - this is not a new concept.  What has changed, though, is how the interactions within your network occur.  In the "old" days, our interactions were mostly face-to-face...we had meetings and conferences and sometimes even phone conferences.  (Oooooh!  Ahhhhh!)  Then, we evolved to emails and "chat rooms" and listservs.  Today, most of our interactions within our learning network take place online via blogs, wikis, Plurk, Twitter, Facebook and and even Pinterest!

Why do I need a PLN?
Having a PLN allows you to connect with other professionals in your field and can also bring valuable information right to your computer.  Work SMARTER - not HARDER, right?!  Howie DiBlasi sold me on Twitter at TCEA last year when he said that at any given time he has 3000 experts at his fingertips to provide a website, tool, tip or trick.  Hmmm...there could be something to this, don't you think?!  You can ask a question to the members of your PLN and get an almost immediate response.  Powerful stuff!  You can also have access to FREE professional development, collaborative solutions to your problems, professional resources, inspiration, troubleshooting...the possibilities are endless!

How do I build my PLN?
First of all, BE PATIENT!  This is not something that you do overnight.  Creating an effective and successful PLN takes time and nurturing, but is well worth it.  Here's my advice ... 3 easy steps...

  • Start following 3 professional blogs.  I like to use Google Reader and you can even use Google Search to find blogs of interest.  Don't forget to comment on the blogs you read...this is all about interaction!  Need more help?  Look here
  • Get a Twitter account and follow 10 people.  You can just retweet what they tweet (did you get that?!) until you are confident enough to put your own content out there. You can find more info on Twitter here.
  • GET BRAVE and find your own voice either by creating your own blog or tweeting your own content or even creating your own Facebook professional page.  I guarantee you - there is someone out there who is interested in what you have to say!
Here's a great presentation and brief explanatory video about PLNs if you're a visual learner.  :)