Note to Curmudgeon: Give Twitter a Chance

by Lauren Libitz, President, Yankee IABC

[See what The Friendly Curmudgeon had to say about Twitter back in June.]

I’m a big fan of the old saying, “Don’t knock it ‘till you try it.” Most recently for me it has meant trying new foods that I thought would taste awful when they turned out to be incredibly delicious (I’m looking at you sweet breads from Toro restaurant); clothing styles that I assumed wouldn’t look good on me until I stepped into the dressing room (hello dresses with pockets from Nordstrom); and social media tools. 

While more and more people are seeing the value of LinkedIn for maintaining professional connections and Facebook for keeping in touch with family and friends, my impression is that people are quick to dismiss Twitter when they haven’t spent any time exploring it. They haven’t set up a profile, haven’t “followed” people who are experts in their field, and haven’t gotten involved in the conversation, and yet are convinced that the only people using it are self-absorbed navel gazers. How do you know that the tool is useless when you haven’t even tried it?  

 I started using Twitter earlier this year, right after I signed up for the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) World Conference. Through IABCs other communication vehicles I learned that the 2008-09 international chair of IABC was tweeting about the conference and I thought it might be worth seeing what she had to say.

Before I knew it, I connected with a community of communications professionals sharing ideas, resources, tools, articles, job leads, and more. I found experts in social media, internal communications (my area of specialty), and marketing, with whom I never would have been able to personally connect without it. I found reviews, coupons and discounts for some of my favorite restaurants and retail stores. I found tips on cooking, fitness and running (my personal hobbies) and hilarious people whose 140 character quips make me smile when I’m having a tough day.

 I also “met” several people who planned to attend the World Conference who shared their thoughts on sessions to attend, restaurants to try, and the skinny on the fun unpublicized events. I was able to schedule several “tweet-ups” to meet them face-to-face once we all arrived, which helped make an enormous conference seem much smaller. The virtual community became a live one, and through those live connections, I met lots of other people, which made my conference experience better than any other I had ever attended.

 I’m not going to say that there aren’t people using Twitter who only want to make themselves feel important and talk about how they found a great parking space or what they are eating for lunch (NOTE: If you want to laugh out loud like a lunatic, check out TweetingTooHard.com for some hilarious REAL tweets from people doing just that).

 What I am saying is that Twitter can be so much more than just navel gazing if you give it chance – get involved, join the conversation, and connect with people who share similar interests. You never know, you just might like it.

P.S. If you want to follow me or see who I follow, check out my Twitter profile.

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