Are you on Twitter? If you just rolled your eyes and reached for the mouse, give me a minute. I was a doubter, too. After all, who wants to know what everyone had for lunch or hear the mundane details of a stranger’s day?
Last night I met Dom Sognolla, author of 140 Characters: A Style Guide for the Short Form. Dom was on the original team that created Twitter, and he had a lot to say about how we communicate in general, our responsibility to be leaders, and how he has used Twitter for personal, business, and travel reasons. At the same event I ran into Melody Biringer, who just came back from an 8-week vacation in Amsterdam. She said that Twitter actually helped her launch a new branch of her business while she was there. That is a pretty powerful endorsement.
I gave Twitter a whirl over the summer, and I’ve become hooked. Let me tell you a few of the reasons why:
- When I was doing the 3-Day Novel Contest over Labor Day, I was able to connect with dozens of other writers doing the same thing. We were able to encourage each other during breaks, offer mini-critiques and suggestions, and just hold each other’s virtual hands while we all went through this exhausting experience.
- I’ve been able to connect with people I admire. Chris Brogan, for example, is a social media expert I like (he talks a lot about building community, especially through is new book, Trust Agents. Through Twitter, I’ve gotten to know him better and been able to connect on a few occasions.
- When you have to boil down a thought to 140 characters, you don’t waste time getting to the point. It is an efficient way to see what’s going on in a variety of subjects. Dom said that “”Twitter in real life leads to short, sharp thoughts.” As a wordy gal, this is a good brain exercise.
- Breaking news – the riots in Tehran, the Washington State cop killer search, bad weather, etc. – you can find up-to-the-minute news from Twitter on just about any subject. Hashtags (#washooting, #tehran, etc.) make it easy to search on important topics.
- Expert help is available on any subject or location. All you have to do is search or type out your question and you’ll be surprised at the amount of help you’ll receive. This is a goldmine for anyone who travels.
A perfect example of the last item on my list is Christine Gilbert‘s new book, Twitter for Travelers. Christine, better known on Twitter as @almostfearless, is a nomadic writer who can just as easily be found in Bolivia as she can in Boston. She travels with her husband, sometimes her dogs, and soon with her baby. This is a woman who knows how to get around and get things done.
Twitter for Travelers is only $7 (it was free for a time for her Twitter followers – another perk of joining!). It is full of information on how to get great airline rates, lodging, and local people to help you in a pinch. Even if you don’t travel often, this is a good resource.
And if you’re just thinking about trying it out, follow me @betsytalbot and I’ll help you out. It really is a great tool for learning, connecting with like-minded people, and getting your message across to people who don’t have time to give to your blog/book/seminar/cause but are still interested in what you have to say.