Tag Archives: TweetDeck

True Story: Twitter, Business, An Introvert Looking Out

The other day I read Can Twitter Rescue Introverted Students? in the Education section of http://www.good.is. It reminded me of what Twitter has done for me in business. This is a true story.

I believe in the essential truth the Jungian personality types and I’ve tested myself several times. I always test close to the border between introvert and extrovert, but I keep switching. It seems like if I test myself during a time that I’m doing a lot of workshops and speaking, I come out slightly extrovert. If I test myself during a time that I’m doing mostly writing, alone, I come out introvert.

This wavering explains how I can be a loser at a cocktail party and a ham when I’ve got a microphone and an audience. It explains how I can be clumsy at networking when it means asking favors of people I’ve failed to keep up with, but not so bad when networking is about doing favors and keeping up with friends. And it explains how I could start and grow my own business business, but like the writing and programming part of it way more than the meetings and management part of it.

And then I discovered Twitter. If it really were a giant cocktail party with strangers, I’d hate it. But no; from the outside in, it’s a giant window to a world of people offering information, advice, opinions, and good links. And from the inside out, it’s a microphone for information, advice, opinions and good links. And I love it. In the illustration, you see a random shot of my Tweetdeck view of Twitter, which sits on one of my two monitors, always, when I’m in my office.

Now I meet people not as strangers but as fellow authors and publishers, because Twitter is publishing, not talking. And I get to know them easily through what they offer in 140-character pieces to the rest of the world. And the special reward is now I often get to meet them in person, or on the phone first and then in person, but it’s no longer like a cocktail party meeting strangers; it’s meeting a friend who is already a friend.

It’s fascinating. It’s fun. And it’s great for business, at least for my business, which is a lot about business planning, small business management, and entrepreneurship. My Twitter self has been recommended by the New York Times, Business Week, Business Insider, and others. And if you’re reading this (thanks for that, by the way) then the odds are the networking effects of social media helped you find it.

Fun, interesting, and good for business? That’s a good combination.

Proving Again that Business Ideas Have no Value

Hold a mirror up to a mirror, and you get some kind of representation of infinity, or something like infinity, intriguing but hard to explain. Just do it.

That’s something like what happened to me yesterday with a riff on business ideas. It started with my first view ideaswatch.com, which is a new website where people can suggest, list, and discuss new business ideas. Think of things you want. Things you wish existed. Those are business ideas.

I love it for several reasons: new business ideas are fun; they’re not owned so they shouldn’t be hoarded; they stimulate entrepreneurs; and the site seems well done. And this reinforces my own insistence that too many people overvalue business ideas; that an idea without implementation is just an idea, worth nothing. So why not share?

But it gets better. I clicked onto the site and started browsing the ideas already posted, and I found this one, called “Startup Failures.” Just to make it clear, the image here isn’t the main page. It’s a specific idea, one of hundreds posted on the site.

In case you can’t read the fine print, the idea is:

What if there was a website where people shared their startup failures so others can learn from that.

Which is where we start ruminating on the nature of ideas, and how nobody really owns an idea. Because:

  • First,  there already is something like that, The Mistake Bank, the work of my friend John Cadell. It’s not specifically about failed startups, but its tagline is: learning from faux pas, miscalculations and decisions gone wrong. I posted about it here on this blog last month.
  • Just last weekend, by complete coincidence, none other but my daughter Megan was on twitter musing about roughly the same thing. The source tweet isn’t exactly the same thing, but it’s close. And their tweets were picked up by others. So people like the idea.

So we have a cool site encouraging people to post and discuss new ideas, and we have a new idea I found there, that’s a good idea, that I’d like to see exist. And we see here that, like all cool ideas, it’s already percolating. It’s out there.

And whoever makes it work deserves to make the money. If you, for example, take this and make money on it, then you and nobody else deserves the money. The value is building the business, not having the idea.

My Recommendation About Your Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn

A couple of weeks ago I was in a classroom full of entrepreneurial MBA students, as a guest speaker, answering their questions about me and Palo Alto Software and bplans.com, this blog, and so forth.

When they asked me how I managed my online self in social media, my response went something like this:

I don’t do social media clutter. I think of social media as publishing and I try to offer nothing that isn’t useful to a reader. When I’m on Twitter I tweet only what interests me and might interest somebody else. I highlight blog posts I wrote and posts I read that seem worthwhile. I ask questions. I sometimes share something useful about business planning, or small business. I use TweetDeck to manage my Twitter self, and I set TweetDeck up to share that with my Facebook and LinkedIn pages.

Several of the students seemed troubled. One of them asked: “So you never post anything personal? What about who you really are?”

And I realized, with that question, that maybe I was lucky. I got into social media late in life. The topics I care about are business related, and my friends are business related. I was already a published author and business owner. I wasn’t ever tempted to post the kind of personal stuff that gets younger generations in trouble. I was always aware of it as publishing, not just gossip. Most of the students, on the other hand, started on Facebook as high-school or university students. Facebook was fun first, business, if at all, only as an afterthought, later.

So here’s my advice: your social media presence is public. It’s publishing. Never clutter it up with personal trivia, much less drinking parties, embarrassing pictures, inappropriate comments, or anything your adult self might not be proud of. Use phone, sms, and instant messages for playing around with friends. Build a social media presence you’ll be proud of when your next prospective employer, boss, or client looks into it.

Oh, and by the way: you don’t have to call it personal branding. You can just call it taking care of your reputation.