By: Isaac Coplan (KT Coordinator)
Networking is important to knowledge translation (KT), as relationships are a key part of KT processes. This is where social media can be useful in KT. Websites like LinkedIn provide a platform in which to expand your network and meaningfully engage with stakeholders. If used properly, social media can be incorporated into Integrated KT strategies as well as end-of-grant research dissemination.
What is LinkedIn?
In the Social Media for KT resource (What is social media & where to start) I wrote about LinkedIn.
LinkedIn is known to cater to professional audiences. They are also well designed so that search engines (such as Google and Bing) privilege information on their pages. This means that they will frequently be higher up when someone runs a web-search on your name (this process is also called search engine optimization).
LinkedIn was designed with the idea of allowing a place for professionals to connect online. It works as a sort of online resume or CV and online presence that can be populated with links, articles and posts. LinkedIn is not just about seeking employment, it can be an important tool to connect with a wide range of stakeholders. In April 2014, LinkedIn announced that it reached 300 million registered users, up from 200 million in 2013.
One thing that I should also mention is the power of LinkedIn groups to expand your professional network. In LinkedIn groups, people frequently post questions or scenarios to their group, this allows for a conversation to occur naturally.Research Impact used their LinkedIn group to pose questions to KT practitioners in order to differentiate between knowledge translation and communications. Analysis from the responses to this question on LinkedIn led to a research paper.
Groups can easily be searched (this Boolean search Tip sheet from LinkedIn is helpful). This provides you with access to over 1.5 Million groups. The search feature easily shows you if any of your existing connections are in groups and the relative popularity. This can allow you to quickly determine the groups that are already relevant to your networks.
How can expanding your LinkedIn network help you with your KT?
There are several benefits of networking that include:
- Gaining greater visibility in professional circles
- Being able to contribute to online conversations in your field
- Providing another place for audiences to discover and contact you
In addition, expanding your research teams’ networks can become a rich source for getting feedback on your work. Two ways that this can be achieved are through:
- Gathering feedback from stakeholders to inform your research questions and approach
- Evaluating the work you have already completed.
Instead of creating a LinkedIn group that we would have to recruit members for, the KT Core expands our networks (connections to our profile page) by targeting policymakers, practitioners and other researchers that may find NeuroDevNet’s research useful in their work and sending them an invitation to connect.
LinkedIn can also be a part of a strategy to evaluate KT Products. For the evaluation of ResearchSnapshots, the KT Core sent personal messages to selected members of our LinkedIn network. We asked the same questions of stakeholders in: Cerebral Palsy, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, and Autism Spectrum disorder and included a link to the ResearchSnapshots on our website for each of these major projects. We wanted to answer questions like:
- Do you find the snapshot a) interesting, b) useful, c) both useful and interesting? D) Neither useful nor interesting?
- How have/would you use these ResearchSnapshot(s)?
- If you would not use these ResearchSnapshot(s), why?
This provided the KT Core with valuable insight into the ways that different products are used, or could be used by different knowledge users.