The thing I love most about conferences is the unexpected things I learn. Like everyone else, I attend certain sessions on topics I need to know more about, but in-between these official talks there are millions of opportunities (casual conversations) to hear things I never knew I needed to know. To me, this is the greatest value of being with a group of individuals who share some common field of interest. With Twitter I get to hang out “between sessions” all day, every day for as long as I want. I can even go back and review conversations I missed. The result is that the growth and learning never ends. I appreciate the immediacy of learning what worked (or didn’t) for a colleague just this morning. Certainly there are issues with hearing things right away. There are comments that must be filtered or excitement that may be premature. Sometimes we just flat get the news wrong. But I consider myself an adult and a professional and ultimately I am in control of my own personal growth.
The question then, is who do I “hang out” with in these virtual conversations. Just like being at a “real” conference, you can choose to listen to the “disgruntled crowd” who use the venue as an opportunity to vent their frustrations, or you can choose to listen in on the “mentors” who are willing to share their wisdom, opinions and thoughts about progress in the field. In the world of social media, we are all given a level playing field to start. Some people grow their audience (both Following and Followers) with other influencers and a natural attraction gravitates them into groups. Fortunately these affiliations are not necessarily just of like-minded folks, but at least they have a like-interest or like-approach to learning and sharing.
There are many ways to find the people who can become your virtual mentors over time. As you become more adept at using social media, you will refine your own lists. By using a service called Little Bird, I was able short-cut that process and generate a report on the top influencers using the term “EMS”. It is not simply a list of who uses that hashtag the most, but a comparison of who they follow and who follows (and RTs or otherwise engages) them. The list is sensitive to how it is “seeded” and it took me several attempts to get a list that I felt had some meaning. While it has an implied interval hierarchy to it, I wouldn’t get as caught up in individual positions as a larger view of the relative ranking. Adding 100 follows to whatever your list currently contains shouldn’t be a problem for those who are truly engaged. �But if you feel you can only add a portion, start at the top of this list. �Regardless of how you use social media, or Twitter in particular, if you are interested in what is happening in the evolving field of Emergency Medical Services, these are the folks I would suggest you follow.
The Top 100 Influencers of the EMS Topic on Twitter:
I don’t suggest that these are the only people to follow. There are many more who I had hoped would make this list, or who would likely be added to some version future of it. Don’t be afraid to allow someone else into your own “group”. Just because they are not currently a “Top 100″ doesn’t mean they don’t have something valuable to contribute. Watch for the #FF hashtag on Twitter that denotes suggestions for a traditional “Friday Follow”. Also watch for who adds value to the conversation. This is how you find these new contributors to your group. Also, don’t view your list as ever being “complete”. Make changes often to met your own needs and interests.