Posts

I recently had the opportunity to speak to a class of college students at IUPUI. We discussed a wide variety of topics including: globalization, outsourcing, culture, career choices and professional networking. It was the latter topic that got me in trouble. You see, I mentioned Twitter. My comment was met with some laughter, some eye rolls and almost in unison, “no one uses Twitter any more. It’s for Olds.”

Olds, now there’s a new one. Olds. I needed no explanation for what it meant. One need to look no further than the gray highlights in my hair and beard to know I fit squarely in the definition of Olds. UGH! Somehow this stung a bit more than being introduced last year as one of the “elder statesmen” of the Information Technology community. THAT came from one of my peers. This came from a group of students young enough to be my grandkids. OK, so yes I am an Olds.

Now, back to Twitter. Ok, class. You may be off using one of the myriad of applications that have replaced Twitter in the thumbs of your generation. But I am not talking about connecting with your peers. I’m talking about connecting with us Olds. Those of us who are in leadership and management positions, those of us who will be hiring you in May when you graduate. Why is connecting with us on Twitter (and LinkedIn) important? To learn. For all of us to learn. Here’s what I mean.

Leveraging the information shared on Twitter is an excellent way to keep up with today’s business news. Much of the tech news I read is a result of a link being shared on Twitter. If Isaac, or Charlie, or Paul or one of the other few thousand people I follow wrote new content, I want to read it. But it is also not about what they wrote, but what the read and found important enough to share it with me (as a member of their network). It’s up to the minute, fresh, it gives you a glimpse into what they are thinking.

I follow a Twitter list. The 100 Most Social CIOs. Imagine that. I can get a peek inside the mind of 100 CIOs in an instant. Just today, here are some of the topics:

It is a way to keep track of an industry (technology) that is changing at an exponential pace!

Some of my most trusted mentors, I “met” on Twitter. I started following them, reading what they shared. Re-Tweeted them, adding my own thoughts. Direct messaged them with questions. Slowing built relationships. Some of them I have now met in person during my travels, some I have interviewed for blog series, others I have interviewed on our podcast.

I also follow our company. I want to see what others are saying about us. Are our products meeting their needs or not? Are we living up to their standards? Who is interacting with our company posts? What things are on their minds? I follow our major competitors for much of the same reasons.

Need another reason to hang out with us Olds on Twitter? When you are interviewing for that dream job, how about following the company. What are they Tweeting about? Who is interacting with their Tweets? Are people generally reacting in a positive manor, or is the Twittersphere full of bad customer services Tweets? Find out the names of the people who are interviewing you. Follow them on Twitter, what things are they thinking about? How do those things apply to the position you are seeking? You can work those topics into your answers during the interview.

Follow people that are in similar roles and other companies. What things are on their mind? Reach to them directly. Find out what’s a “day in the life” of that position. It can be valuable information and it will set you apart from the hundreds, if not the thousands of candidates vying for that same position. You will be amazed how willing they will be to help.

Keeping up with your peers is important. I am not suggesting you abandon the channels you use to stay in touch, I am suggesting you give Twitter another chance as you enter the workforce. It will be a valuable tool for your career.

Now, I’m going to go back to my Rolling Stones music and reminisce about the forty years that have passed since I sat where you are sitting. (btw HOW old is Jagger?)

(Image courtesy of www.ClassicCarCatalogue.com) 

I could have just as easily titled this post “An Old Dog Learns ANOTHER New Trick” (“An Old Dog Goes Back to High School“), but I really have quit taking notes at conferences. Instead I have crowdsourced this task. How, you ask, did I do that? With Twitter, of course (right now everyone reading this who is under 30 something is saying “Duh”)! Hey, keep in mind, I am a former COBOL programmer that once declared, “Real programmers don’t need mice!”, these lessons are a big deal!

In the past, I would dutifully scribble notes, sometimes pages and pages of notes. Later, I would go back and transcribe them (assuming I could actually readBusiness, connectivity, technology them!). About a year ago, I got really technologically advanced and used my iPad to type notes, thus saving the transcription step. I still found that I would miss things because I was busy typing the previous nugget. (on this subject, don’t those people that use laptops with noisy keyboards to take notes incessantly throughout a conference just drive you nuts?).

Several weeks ago, I attend MIT’s CIO conference (#MITCIO) and decided I was going to try to use Twitter to take my notes. I set up a stream on Hootsuite to monitor the hashtag (jeez, three years ago I didn’t even know what a hashtag was, now I am using it in a sentence!). When one of the speakers or panelist said something that struck a chord with me, I tweeted it. Of course, there was a room of several hundred other people also tweeting. By monitoring the stream, I could see what others thought were important points, or see what comments someone might disagree with, or what thoughts were amplified through additional ideas. Since there were multiple tracks, I was even able to follow the comments from sessions I could not attend. Weeks later attendees are still adding thoughts to the dialogue. When I returned from the conference, I merely archived the stream and have my notes (and hundreds of others’ notes) to review for as long as I like.

As I write this, I am attending the Connected World Conference (#CWConf13) in Santa Clara. I have used the same crowdsourcing techniques to take notes at this conference. Talk about being connected! This morning I attended my first Tweet Chat. Peggy Smedley (@ConneectedWMag) of Connected World Magazine and the Peggy Smedley Show (www.PeggySmedleyShow.com) interviewed Mike Tinskey from Ford (@Ford) about their connected and electric cars. People could join live at the conference, on the web, or by following the conversation and posting questions on Twitter (#FordCW) or on the Tweetwall hosted on Tweetwally (http://fordtweetchatcw.tweetwally.com/) and presented to the live audience. It sure beat the old way of Q&A…of writing down your question to be handed to the speaker, or stepping up to the microphone to ask questions. Again, by archiving the stream, I have a permanent record to review later.

So what of the random thoughts, ideas, or actions that I didn’t want to share with the Twitter universe? Since I live in my in-box anyway, I just jumped over to Gmail and shot myself a quick email. All the follow up items are now sitting safely in my in-box and I don’t have to remember to go back and read my scribbles.

Business, connectivity, technologyI think over time as more and more event planners adopt these strategies the process will improve even more. For example, I would love to see separate hashtags for each session. This would enable you to further organize your “notes”. Also, it would be great if events included the speaker’s Twitter handle and LinkedIn link in their bios to facilitate learning more of their thoughts and potentially continuing the dialogue. I would also like to see more events put their guides online, in e-book format or even in app format, that would enable clickable links.

Will I ever take notes again? Sure, most meetings aren’t appropriate to Tweet publicly and some conferences or events may not support the technology to make it possible or some sessions may not have the critical mass of  attendees that tweet, but you can bet, when I can…I will.

If anything you read here or in other posts strikes a chord, I would love to hear from you. Leave a comment, hit me up on Twitter (@jtongici), find me on LinkedIn, or Google +.