I have to admit… the very first time I saw Twitter (back in 2007), I had to wonder why my friend Nivex sent me a link to it.  I think my thought best summed it up…

This site is stupid. It’s going nowhere. It’s definitely not for me.

Later in 2007, I met my dear friend Jeff Blankenburg, who mentioned Twitter in his presentation at a user group meeting.  I thought…

Wait… isn’t that the site that Nivex sent me? I swear… this is stupid.

Jeff made a compelling case for Twitter, and I’m going to share some of his tips.

Check out the person who told you about it.  Check out their friends and followers.

The person who told you about Twitter probably has found it to be a useful tool.  So hear them out and see what they’re talking about. (Follow me over there – @sadukie!)

I checked out Jeff’s profile to see what he was about as well as who he was talking to.  I then popped back to Nivex’s profile and did the same thing.  As I found interesting conversations and people, I started following more.

#HashtagsCanBeHelpful or #OverusingHashtagsIsAnnoying

Use hashtags to make it easier to seek help or find related Tweets.  So if you’re looking for help with a C# problem,   you could use Twitter’s search feature to find Tweets tagged with the #csharp hashtag.  Same thing goes for the Java crew – you could find some help with the #java hashtag.  But for the love of all that’s good, I better not see any tweets with #SpamSadukieWithSuperAwesomeHashtags. Got it? 🙂

There’s also a #Discover link on Twitter – use this to see trending hashtags.

It’s okay to be quiet. (This is my advice, not Jeff’s.  I’m the introverted one.)

There are some people who are just lurking and getting the feel of Twitter.  They are following people who they trust and possibly more, understanding the ecosphere.  If you don’t feel comfortable talking on Twitter, don’t panic – it’s okay to lurk.

But it’s okay to interrupt too!

If you see a conversation that’s really interesting you, don’t be afraid to engage.  You never know where that will lead.

Don’t take Twitter’s “What’s happening?” literally.

Nobody cares if you’re eating a bagel. Seriously, though, you don’t have to say what you’re doing.  You can ask for suggestions and recommendations and see who responds.  You can just post random thoughts.

Twitter is a multi-functional tool.  Make it work for your needs.

For me, Twitter led me to new relationships, new friendships, and new avenues in my career.  I’ve used it to…

  • Find my apprentices job leads outside of the Cleveland/Akron area
  • Find resources related to a work problem
  • Help others find solutions to their problems
  • Promote my book
  • Promote my speaking engagements
  • Find and promote conferences
  • Find my place in the tech community
  • Find other parents in the tech community

Conclusion

As I write this post, I’m up to 17k+ Tweets, following about 2000 people, and being followed by about 2700 people.  My first impressions were totally off, and I’m glad I gave it another chance.

There are people I talk with on Twitter that I have awesome conversations with… that I don’t know in person.  I’m okay with that.  When I meet them in person, it’s cool because we have already talked, so that awkward first time meeting someone is gone.

There are many friends I’ve met through various events that I keep in touch with on Twitter, and when we reconnect, it’s like that time apart physically wasn’t as distant.

For me, Twitter is a great way of keeping in touch with the community and with life in general.