Twitter – Effective Networking Online?

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Twitter asks: What Are You Doing?You may have heard of Twitter and already formed your own opinions. I had an opinion (pretty much like this one) and was pretty sure I wasn’t going to get a twitter account. But then I had an epiphany one day and for reasons I won’t disclose (unless you e-mail me and promise to not blog on it) I actually joined Twitter. And I’d like to report on it as a networking tool. I don’t care if you don’t do it, or if you do it. The issue is how you participate and what you do with it.

First, a little perspective. I’ll be the first to admit, I’m social networked out. I’m tired. I don’t want to have to sign up for yet another social network, and go check it out to see “what’s new.” In fact, I wrote a few months back on what I think social networks are missing (for me and my career management), and even call JibberJobber an UNsocial networking tool!

So, in the traditional sense of social networking, I don’t consider Twitter to be a social network (because I think a social network has so much more than what Twitter offers). I do consider it to be an excellent networking tool.

Can it be a waste of time? Yes. Can it be boring? Yes. Can it be useless (or, bad)? Yes. Will you see when people wake up and go to bed? Only if they tweet it (that’s Twitter jargon!).

Is it appropriate in a job search? Hmmmm… I’m not sure. If you have a small network group that shares leads, network events, opportunities, etc. it can be an EXCELLENT tool. Better than e-mail or phone? Yes, it could be better – imagine collaborative chatting between five power networkers – it could be very powerful.

How do you use Twitter?
If you are not in a job search and spend a lot of time at a desk I’d say get on twitter. Give it an honest shot for about a month (that means you have to have some friends – feel free to add me: http://twitter.com/jasonalba).

Here is my list of why I think having an account on, and participating in Twitter, is a good career move:

  • It keeps me up-to-speed on what others are doing. I have friends that are slow to e-mail or chat, and you never get them on the phone. Yet they are active on Twitter and you can see things they are doing that you should be doing (like, a certain networkig event that you didnt know about), or people they are talking to (and now you can ask them for an introduction!)
  • I learn about things that I never would have learned before. Many of my friends will link to blog posts that are interesting, breaking news, their latest projects, etc. Its been really interesting to see what’s going on and broaden my scope of understanding.
  • For some eerie reason, it encourages me to do more. I don’t feel like I need the encouragement πŸ™‚ but seeing someone tweet that they just had a huge sale, or by 10am are having the most productive day of the week, or whatever their accomplishments are, it pushes me a little more. And at 10pm its cool to see others are doing productive or housekeeping things – and shows me that I’m not the only one to work long and crazy hours.
  • It allows me to brag to people that might be interested in what I’m doing. I’ve tweeted a few brags and get some congrats right back – and some people pick up on the brags and blog on them.
  • It allows me to communicate new stuff. A new blog post, a new release, a new customer… these are all things that contribute to my brand online. My Twitter friends are usually the first to know.
  • It kind of makes me feel cool πŸ™‚ I’m a late adopter and so even though I’m a few months behind all the buzz I still feel like I finally jumped on something in an early stage. Being able to talk about it and know what I’m talking about is good.
  • Its simple. I can catch up on the other tweets in about 10 seconds, and I’m not sucked into an overly complex site. As the tag line says, its only purpose is to answer the question What Are You Doing?
  • I can keep up with interesting people. There are some very interesting people using Twitter – John Edwards is one of them (no, I don’t follow him) – I have no idea if Sanjaya is using it. Some tech pioneers are big on Twitter and its interesting to see what they are evaluating or talking about.

Is it for everyone? No… but it has worked for me. I didn’t have anything to lose and have already got some great benefit out of it.

One more thing, don’t forget to add your contact’s twitter URL into their JibberJobber profile, like this:

Twitter profiles in JibberJobber

What do you think? If you have used Twitter please use specific stories/examples of how it has benefited you.

9 thoughts on “Twitter – Effective Networking Online?”

  1. Here are a couple of other good uses for Twitter that I’m hoping to incorporate. Since I work in politics, that’s the lens I’m looking at Twitter through.

    – If you’ve got an active network of stakeholders, Twitter could be used to send out breaking legislative alerts, notify supporters of breaking news, hype/remind people about events, etc. In essence, with a good-sized network, you can build a crowd or initiate a quick e-activism campaign quickly. Of course, the downside is, you’ve got to have enough stakeholders on Twitter to make it worth your while.

    – Transparency. Some members of Congress are taking a big step forward in open government by publishing their schedules online. Isn’t Twitter a logical extension of that? John Edwards is doing that, but I think that the campaign could do an even better job of it.

  2. Martin Matheny,

    The problem I have with politicians using Twitter is that they think it’s alright to have someone else write their thoughts for them. Having an intern write your press releases is VERY different than having an intern write for your Twitter or blog.

    You can’t fake transparency. We’ll notice if you’re supposed to be at a rally and your twitter entries come from the web or IM instead of your phone. That’s why I’m thoroughly unimpressed with John Edwards’ Twitter account. If he isn’t writing it, what’s the point?

    Laura

  3. I don’t necessarily think that’s the case with Edwards though. A quick glance at his Twitter page shows that the majority of the posts (I’ve got a problem with calling them “Tweets”) are prefaced with “from staff,” and are mostly schedule updates.

    I don’t know if they’re getting the most out of the medium though. Instead of “(from staff): Sen. Edwards and his family are in New Hampshire today. 05:58 PM April 02, 2007 from web “, why not do a few tweets (fine!) with specific times and places? Or, if you’re going to have cameras, tweet that too. “Sen. Edwards event in manchester will be CSpan2 Sunday @9pm.”

    I have the same problem Laura has with astroturf, but if it’s clearly identified as being from staff, I don’t see a problem. In this case, it is clearly a communication from the campaign, not necessarily the candidate, and is a good and upfront tool for disseminating information.

    As far as the tweets that aren’t prefaced by “from staff,” I’m not sure they aren’t from Sen. Edwards. He’s pretty engaged with new media, social networking, technology, etc.

  4. Twitter is crap. Thankfully I only wasted an hour setting it up and playing with it before I realised itÒ€ℒs high-maintenance and extremely low return.

    I can only see it’s value in advertising things like you said: “I’m writing a blog post at http://www.freakedoutfathers.com/” (sorry, thought I’d sneak that in.

    Let’s get back to getting away from screens occasionally and sitting across tables from people, or playing golf or darts with people, or going to events … with people.

  5. I think its overplayed – I mean you only get what 10 seconds of exposure? if that – There are cool tools out there that make it much more interactive especially with blogs and websites – I just do not know what are they but I know I have been reading around about them

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