This week in Atlanta there are hundreds of college students representing horticulture-based programs from across the county that are converging on the campus of the Chattahoochee Technical College for the annual Student Career Days that is sponsored by PLANET – The Professional Landcare Network.
This event is a friendly competition where these aspiring green industry professionals will showcase their talents, and also interview for internships and jobs.
When I owned my landscape contracting business, we really looked forward to this event as both a participant and a sponsor – whether we had job openings or not. Why? The energy is contagious. Everyone is working hard -and loving every minute!
Using Twitter for Engagement
Last year PLANET had a student blogger chronicle some of his activities and thoughts here on the PLANET blog, which I found to be both interesting and educational. For this reason, I was hoping for even more social media engagement this year – especially because I’m up here on the sidelines in Chicago, and I want to tap into that energy.
So, I’m wondering why there is not a greater effort to use social media to engage the hundreds of participants, sponsors, industry leaders, and volunteers at this premier industry event when we have a great tool for doing so? For the most part, this is a social event, right?
As this event is just getting started today, I’m hopeful that some of my ideas will nudge a few students (with the permission of their advisers – we’ll get to that) – to take full advantage of Twitter to step out and digitally rub shoulders with the business community that they are presumably there to get better acquainted with.
Here are my thoughts on why this may not be happening, and how to change that.
They Are Too Busy
My son is a high school senior who is doing very well academically, despite his penchant for excessive text messaging – (4,376 this past month). That’s 141 message per day – seven days a week! It’s safe to say these students share similar habits and therefore have time to communicate in virtually the same manner on Twitter.
One benefit is their voices will simultaneously travel to many more friends, peers, and industry leaders. Wait a minute? That would actually save time! Hmm…
There are Privacy Issues
As representatives of their respective colleges and universities, these students have responsibilities to their schools and their team members. Yet, as representatives, they are ambassadors, too. This means they can be showing their school colors and further talking up their schools.
So, if each school has up to a dozen team members, then each school has that many unpaid PR representatives. Imagine the possibilities for promoting your programs to future students?
They Need Permission
And this all leads me to what I believe is the missing element in this opportunity – they may only need permission.
Just as our kids need some instruction in driving before we are willing to toss them the keys to the family car or truck, these student leaders simply need some guidance from their instructors on using this communication tool to extend the benefits of this event that they have trained for – to take full advantage of its engagement possibilities.
A Little Help
So, let me offer some assistance.
- Set up an account at Twitter
- Use the hashtag #SCD2010 with all of your Tweets. Here’s how Twitter hashtags work.
- Remember you are an ambassador for your school
- Share interesting thoughts and experiences
- Engage in lively conversations; build a dialogue, and enjoy the experience of this wonderful event!
What’s interesting is these students will be demonstrating some amazing skills with skid-steer loaders, chainsaws, brick saws, and many other tools that many adults will never master.
For this reason, I’m confident they can handle this simple community engagement tool that we call Twitter.
Good luck to all of the green industry students at the 2010 PLANET Student Career Days.
And if you get the chance – take Twitter for a drive to make the most of your experience at this event.
Photo Credit: anne.oeldorfhirsch
Jeff Korhan is a green industry speaker and consultant on the topics social media marketing, the green industry, and small business trends. He blogs daily at http://jeffkorhan.com.