Sink or Swim, Social Media Pulls Out to Sea

In September I interviewed Rebecca Scritchfield, a Registered Dietitian who has a Washington DC based private practice.  I used the interview to write this article for the All Access Internship's October newsletter, which published last week.  All Access Internships is an online community for dietetic students and dietetic interns.  (They have some awesome resources for the dietetic internship application process.)  Even though I wrote this article for a dietetics student audience, I think the benefits of social media can apply to all professions.  
Read the article here, or go to the AAI website to see the full October newsletter.

Sink or Swim, Social Media Pulls Out to Sea
Imagine one enormous room with a host of dietitians, a crowd of dietetic interns, and a gathering of dietetic students.  Now imagine the multiple-noisy-animated conversations filled with nutrition news, recipe swapping, career advice and DI suggestions as everyone talks together.   That is the place to be!  Bingo: that is social media.
What is social media, and how can I get involved?  It seems overwhelming.  Help!  Thankfully Rebecca Scritchfield is here to translate.  Rebecca is a Registered Dietitian in Washington D.C.  She has her own private practice specializing in sports nutrition and weight management.  Rebecca is a certified Health and Fitness Specialist and also holds a Masters degree in Communications from Johns Hopkins University.  During her Masters program in 2007 she started a blog for one of her classes (Balanced Health and Nutrition).  Since then Rebecca has continued blogging and has been steadily building her social media presence.
According to Rebecca, social media refers to specific mediums (such as text, photos, and videos) through which people interact.  She shares, “Social media requires two-way collaboration.  A website is one-way.  But a blog is engaging, and readers can become participants.  Twitter [allows] people to follow each other.  In social media we all connect and generate content [together].”
You may be thinking, “Sounds swell, but I’m only a student.”  No no no!  Rebecca stresses, “It’s never too early to get started.  If you know how to send an email, then technically you are involved in social media already.  No need to wait for a job or a dietetic internship.”  
If you’re still wading in the shallow end, let me splash a little more encouragement.  Number one. The world is online, and as future dietitians we must ensure that our profession stays at the forefront.  It’s time to get tech savvy so we can market new skills and fresh ideas in the field of nutrition.  Number two.  Social media offers a chance to be known.  Connect with experts in your areas of interest and keep in touch with classmates and peers.  Social media has upgraded the art of networking.   It’s free, it’s convenient, and it’s an ocean of opportunity at your disposal.
Are you wondering how to start your social media presence?  Just dive in.
Here are three tips from Rebecca to push you over the edge:
1. Be an Explorer.  Find organizations on Facebook, follow professionals on Twitter, and post your resume on LinkedIn.  Read blogs, listen to podcasts, and post comments.  As a student, this is the time to experiment with the tools of social media. 
2. Try Guest Blogging. If you have been following a certain blog and commenting, then this may be easier.  Introduce yourself and offer to write something.  Don’t expect to get paid.  Test the waters; you might enjoy it.
3. Create Your Own Blog.  If you’re passionate about something, have an opinion, and like to write, then maybe it’s time to swim further and create a blog.  Realize that a blog is essentially your own personal space on the world wide web.  Exciting! Evaluate the time commitment, and plan to set aside at least 3 hours per week to write and comment.  

Rebecca concludes, “Social media is just a technology.  In the end it’s always about the relationships and networks and connections.  Social media merely allows you to catch a wider net in the relationships you can make.”  Thanks Rebecca! 
Dive into social media. The learning curve is steep, but it’s worth the plunge


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Disclaimer. I am not a Registered Dietitian yet. I provide nutrition information intended for the general public, not for the treatment of a specific medical condition. I try to use scientific research and reliable sources when forming my opinions and messages.
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