Using Twitter Well

Photo by Rosaura Ochoa. Used by Creative Commons License.

Someone asked me the other day why I use Twitter. I explained it like this:  Facebook is for the friends you have, in real life. Twitter is for the people that would be your friends and/or colleagues, if you met them, but you haven’t.

For me, Twitter has made connections despite geographic differences - I regularly communicate with a dancer in England, a theatre tech in Ontario and people in almost every state. I also converse with people that, in real life, the “fame” factor would not allow. I have had conversations with Dan Haseltine (Jars of Clay, anyone?) and Scott Ginsberg (Hello, My Name is Scott). Well, it’s exciting to me, anyway!

I do follow people on Twitter that I know in real life. But not nearly as many as the people I don't know! And, I dontry to meet them, in real life, when the opportunity arises! About a month ago, I had coffee in New York with an acting coach I follow. We exchanged ideas and resources about the coaching business and had a lovely afternoon!

I have found that Twitter is most valuable as a networking tool. Think of Twitter as a virtual happy hour for people who share your interests. They are all there, waiting for a conversation with you. A few thoughts on using Twitter well:
  • You wouldn’t talk only about yourself, if you met someone in real life. Don’t on Twitter. Be interested in what’s happening around you. Have a conversation.
  • Pay attention to who other people are talking to. Get to know them. They know how to use the tools and have had experiences others find valuable.  
  • Give credit where credit is due. If you retweet or if you use a quote, make sure the right person gets credit.
  • Say thank you. If someone retweets you or follows you- thank them!

All of this is assuming that you use your Twitter account to follow more than Ashton Kutcher or Lady Gaga. While they might be entertaining (I actually wouldn’t know, as I don’t follow either), they are likely not helping you grow as a professional or a person. Twitter helps broaden your sphere of colleagues. I love that I can find new resources, get answers to questions, and be challenged and inspired- all by people I have never met!