Making Twitter & Networking Work for Business
At a networking event last night in London #connectingHRamonst the many discussions were several on Twitter and its use in HR and business. The event was the first independent HR based tweetup in the UK and was very successful and well attended – over 100 registered and I would estimate that approximately 60-70 people were in attendance.
One comment I heard was “I expected it to be a room full of people on laptops and geeks, but these are real people!” – but not one (laptop) was in sight – sure occasionally people tweeted on their phone – but this was about real people building real relationships and connections. Social networking is just a gateway to real relationships – not some plastic world of not real friends. Real business was taking place but at a level of respect and trust.
So what makes twitter work for business?
Firstly we need to recognise and understand that there are several reasons why people are on twitter:
- To market themselves/ their business
- To market a product
- To connect with like minded people
- To meet with like minded people
- To learn new things
- To show the world they are important
- To try something new
And for may of us it is a blend of the above with varying priorities. As typical in the 90-9-1 “rule” some are VERY active in the environment – others are passive. All forms of interaction are valid.
What MAKES Twitter however is the ability to connect with others. At the event last night the energy in the room was palpable, a real buzz. People were networking, connecting and building relationships without the usual pressing of a hand full of business cards and “minute to win it” style sales pitches. It was meeting with people for the sake of meeting people. No real agenda. This is powerful stuff. The added advantage is that in many cases at some level we had already known each other, and knew how to make contact – an another level we were real strangers (at the beginning of the event).
Why was this better than many traditional networking events?
Traditional networking events from my experience fall in to one of two forms – the “high pressure” sell – and the “stay with the people you know” format. With those based on social networking, many of us had “met” on line, shares a tweet or two and we recognise the name. The introduction or ice breaker is done.. and real conversations can start easily. This format worked well for those that were socially confident as well as those there were less confident meeting “new” people.
Much like Twitter and other discussions, it felt right to wander around and join and leave conversations to talk with “old names” but with “new faces”..
Even if individuals were only known by reputation, it felt like meeting an old friend. (And did that too meeting someone I have not spoken to for almost 20 years)
How to make Twitter work
The simple thing about making twitter work as a business tool is for the tweet stream to have a personality (or range of personalities). So if you are having a company based tweet stream have a personality – show you are human. Have a profile page you tweet to occasionally. Talk about your hobbies etc.
If you operate a tweet stream with several posters – encourage them to use their initial as hash tags – for example #mdm so that followers can really interact. Have a profile page for each one.
There are many many fully automated tweet streams out there and Twitter is about to change approach with its growth – and the “faceless” corporate tweet streams will slowly lose popularity and the RTs that many using twitter for marketing crave after.
Stephen shaperio on his blog has identified what he calls Twitter personalities or poker types:
- Clubs – Methodical/ Competitive – competitive using Twitter to help them be successful
- Hearts – People – more interested in the connection with other human beings
- Spades – Analytical – those involved and interested in gathering data – more interested in topics than people/ individuals
- Diamonds – Creative – because it is new and cool
We all have a primary and secondary type.
If in business you are Diamond first and Club second – you will lose in the long run. If on the other hand you are hearts with clubs – that can be a very powerful combination.
Me… I think I am Clubs with Hearts as a secondary, I used to do a lot of Spades – but that is very much in the background now. Getting the balance of hearts and Clubs is a challenge.
So how are you going to make twitter or other social networking/ web 2.0 tools for your business now… and in the future – remember just because one web 2.0 tool works this week doesn’t mean to say it will work next week.
to read som more views on this event have a look at:
Some of the “official” pics from the event…