Conferences, TED talks and social media: the ultimate tools for academic profile building

Effective social media use and strategic networking can help you shape a distinctive personal brand as an academic. Padmakumar K offers some practical guidance on how to increase your reach

Padmakumar K's avatar
22 Dec 2023
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In an industry that places high importance on networking, collaboration and innovation, it is vital to set yourself apart with a strong personal brand. You can do this by using conferences, TED Talks and social media to engage in and initiate discourse.

Using conferences as networking opportunities

As well as being centres for knowledge, higher education conferences offer exceptional networking opportunities between individuals who share interests, be they academics, researchers or administrators. By attending them, whether as a speaker or an attendee, you can engage in important discussions, build your network and make an impression.

Starting dialogues at conferences can lead to fruitful partnerships and opportunities for research advancement. To maximise the chances of this happening, choose wisely when it comes to deciding which conferences to attend. A-grade conferences, for example, are conducted by renowned institutions and professional associations whose review method for papers submitted for conference presentations adheres to a stringent blind peer review procedure. Attending A-grade conferences also offers participants the opportunity to have their work published in prominent academic journals. Whatever the grade, the conferences you attend should attract participants from institutions from all over the world.

Sharing knowledge via TED Talks

Doing a TED Talk offers you the opportunity to express your educational philosophy to an international audience. To do this, identify the fundamental message that you intend to communicate and construct an engaging storyline that helps you articulate it effectively. In doing so, you can solidify your position as an authority in your particular field, garnering acclaim and recognition within the education sector and beyond. Here are some tips for planning your TED Talk:

  • Identify the core message you want to communicate
  • Understand your audience and what interests them
  • Make sure your topic is relevant to that audience
  • Begin with a powerful hook such as a thought-provoking question or a surprising fact
  • Use personal anecdotes and connect them with the main message
  • Be descriptive and build an emotional connection with your audience
  • Be concise.

Using social media to interact with the academic community

Developing an online presence requires actively participating in discussions and showcasing your and your institution’s accomplishments. For this reason, social media has evolved into an indispensable resource for professionals in higher education. Platforms such as Academia, ResearchGate, LinkedIn and X enable users to disseminate research findings, engage in discussions and establish connections with colleagues from across the globe.

Engage in active participation within online communities that are pertinent to your area of expertise and utilise these platforms to construct a digital network. Good examples of content to upload include snippets of your lectures and highlights of conferences you attend. Use these to spark discussion. Add relevant hashtags to your content to help it become more visible. Cross-promoting the links on all social media networks will help boost visibility as well.

When it comes to posting frequency, it’s important to be consistent. Upload content once or twice every other day and you’ll start to see your following and post engagement grow. Couple this with active engagement in discussions and prompt replies to comments to help you develop a strong online presence. The key is to be respectful, authentic and engaging. You can do this by injecting humour into your posts and comment replies. There’s no need to respond to each comment individually; instead, create conversation threads. And perhaps most importantly, express your viewpoints without disregarding others’.

Using conferences, speaking opportunities and social media platforms to get your work out there is a great way of advancing your academic career. Through active engagement in these domains, you can craft a strong professional identity and boost the reputation of your institution. Seize these opportunities and watch your impact grow.

Padmakumar K is the head of PG programmes/placements coordinator at Manipal Academy of Higher Education, India.

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