It probably comes to no surprise that I am a big fan of using the Internet to network, meet new people, share resources, and learn new things- especially related to my work as an art therapist. This interest started over ten years ago when I was in graduate school and I wanted to connect to or stay in touch with other art therapy students all over the country or share news important to what was happening in the field. Creating an e-mail list-serv for students and then networking forum on Delphi for several years, helped with this need. These days the Art Therapy Student Networking Forum continues on LinkedIn (see the Art Therapy Alliance link below) for students interested in art therapy or enrolled in an art therapy education program to ask questions and network with other students and art therapists.
Ten years ago there wasn’t the buzz word “social media” used to describe this kind of activity or various platforms, but it was the beginning (for me) to the world of art therapy engaging in the possibilities and benefits of Internet forums, e-groups and on-line networking. Now there is LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, blogging, podcasting, and so many other forms of social media- it is amazing! Within the art therapy field, I am seeing great things happen with these tools and the activity that comes from it. In this posting, I wanted to highlight some of these considerations, as well as provide ways in which art therapists not involved (yet!) with the social media scene can acquaint themselves, get started, and find resources to help with networking and promotion.
This week I read the article, Are You Taking Advantage of the Social Media to Promote Your Business? by E.G. Sebastian and his thoughts on the top three social media sites to grow and build the work that you offer, services you provide, and create a following about your business, company, or cause. I agree with Sebastian’s top three choices (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter) and can already see how these sites are having an impact on art therapists and the field of art therapy:
LinkedIn– I have mentioned LinkedIn in previous posts and have found this professional networking site really valuable for enhancing and promoting my work as an art therapist and these related interests. LinkedIn is a social media site dedicated to helping build your professional relationships, promote your work and service through your profile, and provide networking opportunites by making connections, introductions, and giving/receiving recommendations related to your work with those you trust and who trust you. LinkedIn also incorporates many application programs to help promote your work, such as, but not limited to: posting/viewing PowerPoint presentations, synching your blog, sharing files, and letting others know “what you are working on”. For me, these updates and exchanging of information has been helpful with staying up to date on what colleagues are working on or looking for.
LinkedIn also has many Groups that you can join based on your career or special interests. Joining a LinkedIn Group provides additonal networking around a similar skill or area with other professionals who share this same interest. Group members can post news links, start discussions, and access group members for help with questions, feedback, or support. This past week celebrated the one year launching milestone of The Art Therapy Alliance, a professional group on LinkedIn for art therapists, art therapy students, and professionals interested in art therapy and want to network, exchange ideas, and discuss related news and happenings.
Facebook– Sebastian also identifies Facebook as another platform to help spread the word to the masses about your work, services, upcoming events, current news, network, with a personal touch. I enjoy when my art therapy friends post news links, event information, websites, and blog postings related to our work, as well as find the support and community that is exchanged really helpful and encouraging. Facebook also has Groups to join and there are many, many art therapy focused groups available to join by keyword searching “art therapy”.
Twitter- Lately, I have been most impressed with the reaching power of Twitter, another social media site that provides updates to those following you about your status and what you are up to. If you “tweet” (post) on a regular basis with content for potential followers to become interested in, it’s easy to build a group of people curious about your postings. Becoming a follower of others also contributes to strengthening your network opportunities and keeping informed. Go to www.twitter.com to start tweeting! This NYTimes article, Putting Twitter’s World to Use also describes examples on how people are using this social media site.
To learn even more about the power of social media, view the brief video below. I think the residents of Scoopville, ice cream, and the future of art therapy have a lot in common! By the people, for the people!