Book cover for Writing Beyond the University: Preparing Lifelong Learners for Lifewide Writing. Edited by Julia Bleakney, Jessie L. Moore, and Paula Rosinski.
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November 2022

From chapter 13, “‘And Sometimes We Debate’: How Networking Transforms What Professional Writers Know”


In a recent project I conducted (Lauren and Pigg 2016), we learned that technical communication entrepreneurs often network to help build field knowledge. We think this finding is particularly important for how we prepare graduate students interested in jobs in industry and academia. In our recent IEEE Professional Communication Conference proceedings paper, we argue that our field can teach networking in the same way entrepreneurs use it. This assignment is to help you network as a way to build, disseminate, and develop field knowledge.


To successfully complete this project, I would like you to take the following steps:

  1. Develop a professional identity.
    1. What is your field broadly defined?
    2. Write a short bio that demonstrates your interests
    3. Use a professional headshot as part of your profile
  2. Choose a platform
    1. LinkedIn
    2. Twitter
    3. I would avoid Facebook for this sort of thing
  3. Connect with like-minded people
    1. Who is interested in your area(s) of interest?
    2. How are they disseminating information?
    3. Follow who people you admire follow.
  4. Take advantage of the platform
    1. Does it automate ideas (via email)?
    2. What can you offer those who follow you?
    3. What do you think your field ought to know?
    4. What conversations do you want to start, continue, or participate in?
    5. If you have a bunch of ideas at once, save them as drafts and then send them out when you don’t have ideas.

Some Advice for Getting Started

It is perhaps smart for you to watch how others use social media that you admire and then consider the rhetorical situation. I would not suggest that you should censor yourself, but I would suggest you understand that sometimes people misuse these platforms. Also, the information you post can be used to evaluate you (sometimes) years after the post. A good rule of thumb: participate in these conversations as if you were speaking in public around people who don’t know you, but are interested in learning from you.

From the Syllabus (4/24/17 update to assignment sheet)

Networking Activity (20%)

You will use this activity to learn to network as an intellectual leader. That is, to identify, build, and disseminate professional knowledge to peers in the field. To do so, you will actively participate in an area of TPC that interests you and periodically reflect on your participation. For instance, you may be interested in accessibility of learning technologies. To fulfill this assignment, you might set up a professional LinkedIn account or Twitter profile and begin connecting with other like-minded professionals in the field. As well, you might also share relevant information you encounter and/or write. There will be 3 informal “progress report” reflections (approx. 1-2 pages) due throughout the semester with a more substantial final reflection due at the end of the semester (approx. 4-6 pages).