As you might imagine… I lead a pretty busy life. I travel some for my work to train, consult, and speak at conferences. I have three kids involved in Boy Scouts and Tae Kwon Do. My wife and I run a private school we helped start. My free time is usually spent in coffee shops or places as deep in the woods as I can walk. It is very hard to find time for my close friends and family.
There is almost no time for the folks who I genuinely value, would like to stay in touch with, but are not part of my immediate circle.
Prior to the whole social networking movement, those people just drifted away. I might be lucky to see someone at a 20 year reunion or happen upon them in an airport somewhere. Even if you are able to spend time writing email or occasionally talking, it is really intense trying to get people up to speed with what is going on. The result is that people are only marginally connected and only marginally involved in your life.
Keep People in the Know
The beauty of Twitter is that people can stay involved in your life no matter where they are, what they are doing, or what you are doing. When you do get the opportunity for face time, you are not starting from scratch. There are people I have not seen in a year that, next time we get together, will know about my trips to Milan, Paris, and London; they will know what I am thinking about and interested in, they will have seen the latest pictures of my kids, and maybe even know who I intend to vote for.
We have a much better starting place to begin a new conversation.
I can’t tell you how many people came up and wished me a happy birthday last month because Facebook or Plaxo let them know it was coming up (it was September 29th by the way). That is a pretty small thing, but it was meaningful to me. I’ll bump into people around town that will ask about my last vacation or how some issue I was complaining about got worked out.
Again… it gives us a point of reference and a place to start besides “hey… what have you been up to lately”… they already know.
There is this one guy who started following me on Twitter that I follow as well. I have never met this guy but I know he is a product manager for a small software company in Toronto, he is obsessed with Batman, likes to play video games, and eats out frequently with his wife. He made an offhand comment one day about a VersionOne competitor so I responded directly to him.
This opened up a dialog that we took off Twitter and onto email. I was able to help him with an agile question he was dealing with and he returned the favor by reviewing a white paper I am writing. That is pretty amazing. Here are two people that never met but in effect know each other so well they are willing to go out of their way to help each other out.
When I was in London a few weeks ago, I was getting really frustrated with some of the poor presentations I attended. I twitted that I was going to write a blog about delivering great presentation. A friend of mine in the Netherlands picked up my twit from Facebook and mentioned that he was writing a presentation on giving presentations.
I happened to be traveling with a mutual friend from Denmark who was also writing a presentation on how to deliver a great presentation. I was able to hook the two of them together and now they are going to collaborate rather than working independently. Creating connections where connections don’t exist is powerful stuff.
It gives us one more way to stay connected with each other in an increasingly depersonalized world.
Over the Top?
My wife thinks I am a nut. On a good day, I’ll probably send out 8-10 updates. Does anyone really care what I am doing that many times a day? Probably not…. but the people in my network are now a bigger part of my life than they would have been otherwise.
If you have any of your own Twitter success stories, I would love to hear them. You can post a response to this blog or shoot me an email directly. If you are interested in following me on Twitter, my id is @mcottmeyer. I’ll d you my email address. I’d love to have you come along for the ride!
Here are just a few things that I do to stay connected:
- Update Twitter from my iPhone
- Twitter updates automatically feed into Plaxo and Facebook
- I use Twitterfeed to automatically generate a tweet when I post a blog to www.leadingagile.com.
- My agile blog automatically publishes on Plaxo
- I use TripIt to manage my itineraries and push a travel feed to both my blogs. This let’s people know where I am headed and when I will be there.
- I have Picassa and Del.icio.us automatically update Plaxo as well
- I have become a guest writer on Agile Software Development in an attempt to grow my network and I also allowed DZone to republish my posts from LeadingAgile
Anything else you think I should be doing to stay connected?