No doubt I’m not a social creature. After all, I’m a techie who would expect anything but anti-social behavior. Recently I took the plunge into online social networking thinking it would be safe, completely lacking any real human connection. To my surprise, I found myself making real connections within only a few days. I was communicating with someone, rather than just machines. Conversations with real people, with real opinions, from all over the world streamed down my screen.
My favorite Social Networking tool was Twitter. With a 140 character message limitation, it delivers information in a format that worked well with my ADD based personality. As time passed I was tweeting up a storm, completely comfortable in my online relationships. That’s when it happened, The Maryland Association of Certified Public Accountants sent out a “Tweet-up Invitation”.
I’d been on Twitter long enough to know that these “Tweet-ups” where an opportunity for Twitter users to gather in “real life” and network. Just the thought of attending brought back memories of hiding under the bleachers at my middle school dance. “I’ll just ignore it, nobody will notice if I don’t respond” I thought to myself.
With the date for the Tweet-up rapidly approaching, and no further mention of it, I believed I’d dodged the bullet. Of course just when I was comfortable, the invite came again, then hit a ReTweet stream, then DM’s with questions from friends about my attendance. What was I to do? I caved and decided to toughen up and make an appearance.
Wow, is about all I can say. The MACPA Tweet-up wasn’t painful like some of the other networking events I’ve attended. People who arrived had something in common, we all utilized online social networking. Not everyone in attendance was connected on Twitter, some folks didn’t even use Twitter. Several people in attendance found the Tweet-up via a Facebook posting, others were hauled in by spouses. The MACPA did a wonderful job at hosting, providing food, beverages, and nametags with our online names as well as our real names. TweetChat was used to allow those who couldn’t attend to join the discussion.
Discussions were a mix between personal and professional topics, just like those you find within the on-line community. At one point Tom Hood, with the MACPA started a round of introductions where we all shared our names, organization, use of Twitter, and our best Twitter stories. What I found most interesting about the introductions, were the different use of the tool. Among the 20-30 attendees answers included collecting information, communication, public relations, crowd sourcing, intelligence and more. My mind was spinning, this one simple tool I used for knowledge collection had so many unique uses!
The discussion continued with Twitter client discussions, how-to information, best practices, and other related topics. Francine McKenna (@retheauditors), Rick Telberg (@CPA_Trendlines) and I discussed the importance of your Twitter name, renaming, squatters and alter egos. Jeff De Cagna (@pinnovation) discussed a new BlackBerry client he was using called Social Scope. Several people discussed how Twitter had been discussed on and utilized in mainstream media as well as strategies for presenting your message properly. So much information was exchanged during the two hours it’s impossible for me to document everything I’ve learned.
“Extremely valuable”, is how I’d sum it up. While I have a hard time doing it justice in words, I’ve had an experience I won’t soon forget. Perhaps @BillSheridan will do a better job of reporting the details. My best advice would be next time you see that Tweet-Up invite you your stream jump on it. It’s fun, informative, and valuable!
While @kvitartas will cringe, I’ve made this post without the Editors “net” at the request of @dahowlett. Spelling and Grammatical errors are all mine in this one RE: dahowlett@chris_jenkins I’ll take whatever YOU choose to share. YOUR gig, YOUR terms etc. Make me want more.