One of my networking/leads groups got off on a tangent in early December and decided that we needed to learn more about social networking. One Facebook enthusiast volunteered to do a presentation on that, and since I had the most experience with Twitter (all of 5 weeks) I was nominated to do the Twitter talk.
So I’d been using Twitter for just over a month, although I’d had an account for a lot longer. I had never really spent the time to understand what it was about, and frankly wasn’t convinced that it would useful for me as a businessperson.
That may sound odd. I’m a web designer and developer, and for the past six months I’ve been a very busy one. I have a lot of demands for my time – taking online classes, going to meetings, project work, blogging, LinkedIn, and so on. I thought that Twitter looked like a big waste of time.
But, I decided to give it a try. I read a lot of articles on using Twitter for business, and that did help – it gave me a laundry list of things I could be using it for as a creative – but I’m convinced that the only way to figure out if Twitter’s good for you is to try it yourself.
My verdict? For me the answer is ‘yes.’ I’ve met a lot of other professionals that I would never have known otherwise. I get feedback on questions, I get help with problems in my work. I talk to other web designers and developers and get interesting opinions on just about any topic you can imagine from people in wildly different fields.
I like the immediacy of Twitter. What it’s really like for me is a river of ongoing conversation that I can dip into at any time and get caught up in, if I choose. Sometimes I do have to turn it off – it gets distracting. But when I want to be involved, I can be, instantly. It’s kind of nice to have so many to talk to when you’re working on your own.
I’ve also found that it’s much more personal than tools like LinkedIn, where you basically spread out your entire professional life for someone to see on one page. Twitter requires ongoing participation and rewards it by allowing you to get to know people over time – not just as a representative of some company but as a real person with real interests including and beyond their work.
Anyway, my talk was very well received. There were a lot of questions (I take that as a compliment) and it was a good hour of back-and-forth discussion that morning. A few others in our group have taken the first step in getting involved and have actually set up accounts. I couldn’t promise them that they would love Twitter, but I think I gave enough information to make it less intimidating and fueled their curiosity enough to give it a try.
I learned a lot in preparing for my presentation; besides my slideshow (see below), I also have a resource list I put together a handout (PDF).