Appreciating the value of a Twitter community
Two more very fine reasons (among the dozens of them) that I find Twitter my primary go-to source for keeping up with my industry and career options. I discovered two terrific links during some relaxed coffee sipping over the weekend, within a few minutes of one another, that I couldn’t have found by checking e-mails or even my RSS feed.
The first comes from Gary Comerford, a British business consultant who passed along via Twitter a blog link from the Harvard Business School site about an unconventional method to job-searching. It’s actually about not searching at all, at least in the familiar ways that most of us have known. The message: Spend your unemployed time on activities that spark your interest, and do it with others as much as possible:
“If you’re passionate about what you’re doing, and you’re doing it with other people who are passionate about what they’re doing, then chances are the work you eventually find will be more in line with the stuff you love to do. . . You’re using this crisis as an opportunity to do work you love, at which you excel, with people you enjoy. You can’t help but succeed. . . .
“Don’t waste this time. The job search. The client search. Do it. But do it in a way that excites you. That teaches you new things. That introduces you to new people who see you at your natural, most excited, most powerful best. Use and develop your strengths. The things at which you excel. The things you love.”
I have yet to find out if the results promised here will be borne out for me, but this is exactly the approach I have been taking since I left my newspaper. I saw this as a time to do some things I’ve been eager to try and it’s reassuring to know that I’ve tapped into some of those interests and made connections with a new set of people who are getting exposed to my work.
This post above all bolstered the belief I’ve pointed out on this blog that career reinvention ought to be something that stirs your passion, or it’s not worth doing.
And since that career reinvention has centered on finding new ways to do journalism, this link sent by Susan Mernit, a Web consultant I also follow on Twitter, also resonates perfectly during this post-newsroom part of my career: It’s going to be up to journalists to reinvigorate the profession. It was written by another Web pro who survived the dot.com bust a decade ago:
“Do not mistake this message as a prediction that the news industry’s current misery is mere stage-setting for a glorious resurgence. It isn’t. . .
“On the decks of a career Titanic, you don’t have much choice but to sit back and let others ensure your safety and set your course. . . You’ll discover what thousands upon thousands of tech workers discovered: you can do great work outside of an institutional, big-company context, and you can make a living doing so. High tech companies didn’t own innovation; the innovators did. News organizations don’t own journalism: journalists do.”
Well, these two posts certainly made my weekend, but more importantly, they underscored the high value that comes from a community of people you bring together in a social media network. I’ve never met either individual cited here; Comerford began following me and I reciprocated. Mernit is an influential new media figure with an emphasis on online journalism. Of the more than 200 people I follow or Twitter (and most of them follow me) I’ve met only a handful, and know them mainly as acquaintances.
For media, marketing, business and Web professionals, the near-instant messaging speed of Twitter (and the days of “Fail Whales” signifying an outage are not as frequent as in recent months) make this an increasingly convenient work-related social network of choice.
And that’s why quite a number of people who have blogs or other Web presences don’t always update there as they do on Twitter. Its 140-character limit provides a much faster and easier way of sharing ideas and links or just saying hello.
There are plenty of resources for journalists to get started with Twitter — this is a very good 101 guide — and how to use it in their work. For now think about how your Twitter network can help you, and vice versa. Like most social media, it’s free but requires registration. You can start by following me to get an idea how you can build your own Twitterhood.
And like other social Web communities, you’ve got to be an active part of it. For every link or other item from a fellow “Tweeter” that you take for your own use, it’s important to give back. Provide links and other information you know your community will value. That’s something I’m also earnestly trying to improve as I mark my first anniversary on Twitter. It’s a great resource but it’s growing tremendously. Give yourself time to get comfortable with Twitter, but please get started with it now.career, journalism, media comment below, or link to this permanent URL from your own site.