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More on Twitter and the Workplace

Several months ago Iowa Patent and Cyber law guru Brett Trout (Twitter:  @BrettTrout) introduced me toTwitter Twitter. Twitter is a social media site where people write "Tweets" in 140 characters or less. It is also known as micro-blogging. I actually don't think its creators initially envisioned Twitter as a business application but it is certainly has evolved into a very effective business tool.  Several of the authors of IowaBiz have their own Twitter pages.

I'll admit, my gravitation toward Twitter has been very slow. While I immediately saw the benefits with my own blog, it took me much more time to see the benefits of Twitter for the business person. Until recently there were many occasions when I thought of ditching the exercise. At times the "noise" on Twitter can be a bit overwhelming and it is tough for me to stay connected with it during the work day. But some things occurred over the past several months that demonstrate great promise for my continued use of Twitter:

  1. There is a very active Twitter community in Des Moines. (See dmtweetup.org).  I have met several interesting and motivated individuals through this very diverse group. Some are interested in business while others are not, but I have learned about people and our community from all. Members of this group have met for roundtable discussions and also have planned business seminars and other events. Heck, even a dmtweetup with @ChuckGrassley has been scheduled.
  2. A site called LexTweet popped up for lawyers and has made it much easier to identify and follow lawyers from around the country. This is important not only for networking purposes but also from an educational standpoint. Many of these lawyers post on important topics that keep me on the forefront of what is happening with cases throughout the country. Perhaps there is a similar site in your industry. If not, start one.
  3. I had the opportunity to meet and talk with one of the real leaders in the legal social media network, @MattHomann. Without Twitter it is highly unlikely I would have learned Matt was in town for a project and I would have missed out on the opportunity to meet with him. The ability to connect with people through Twitter is downright amazing! 
  4. Added bonus:  @LanceArmstrong started on Twitter. He's actually pretty fun to follow as he returns from retirement. 
In my blog post, The Workplace is All a Twitter, I discussed the fact that someone from YOUR company is probably already on Twitter and/or other social networking sites regularly.  I also warned that if you don't define how your employees use Twitter, they will define it for you.  It's better to get on board before it's too late. 

I strongly suggest that employers meet with employees to discuss potential issues regarding Twitter use. Remind employees how their Tweets could impact your business, both positively and negatively. This past week a story of an employee who Tweeted about the town of Memphis, home of his company's major client FedEx, touched off a firestorm of controversy. One can debate whether it deserved the amount of attention it received but it is tough to deny the incident reflected poorly on the employee and his employer. After all, the client's representatives took umbrage with the Tweet.  You don't want to be THAT company.

And if you are an employee, I would think twice about publishing negative Tweets about your employer. I think you will find that more and more employers will monitor Twitter and other social networking sites. You don't want to be THE employee whose career ends in one Tweet. Remember, be professional. It may be social networking and at times you will be off the clock. But people are watching you all the time.
P.S. You can follow me on Twitter @RushNigut


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Great article Rush! You make a very clear case for using social networks like Twitter and also the caution that must be taken when putting your words and opinions out for the world to read. Reputation is built over time but you can lose a large chunk of it in only 140 characters.

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