Building Connections, Two at a Time

Not sure how it’s happened, but I am hovering around the 3,000 mark in followers on Twitter.  And I follow just about that many people.  It’s amazing.  And overwhelming.  How can I possibly connect with all these wonderful, smart people?

Realistically, I can’t, although I try really hard to engage as many as I can.  And surprisingly, (to me at least) many people engage right back. I love when that happens.

So, I’ve decided to share my very positive Twitter experience.

This week I began posting what I’m calling my Introduction of the Day –  connecting two people I have met on Twitter who may share interests, or professions, or proximity.  Or they may just be two people I enjoy so much that I simply want them to meet and strike up a conversation.

After all, conversation is what Twitter is all about.

I’m looking forward to having fun with this.  And I hope it prompts you to introduce people you know.  I think it has the potential to enrich the Twitter experience for all of us.

Let me know how it goes.

Blogathon Vancouver – 24 Hours, Many Heroes

Yesterday, at the ungodly hour of 6am, several of my Vancouver friends plunged into 24 straight hours of blogging for charity.  Blogathon Vancouver has helped support the efforts of some 20 local charities – from the BC Cancer Foundation and the BC Children’s Hospital to the Vancouver Food Bank and the Federation of BC Writers.  And it’s also introduced the world to some of the most talented and caring people I know.

I was fortunate to guest-blog during the event.

Check out my post for @hummingbird604 on Making the Most of  Twitter in Real Life here.

And I took a slightly lighthearted look at how social media, especially Twitter, can level the playing field for disabled people. Take a look on @ganga_narayanan’s blog here.

For more comprehensive info on Blogathon, visit both @hummingbird604’s and @Miss604’s blogs for starters.  You’ll see references to the many people who participated and the charities they helped.

Next year, I hope to be part of this marvellous group in person.  Great job, everyone!

You are heroes.

An Ounce of Prevention…

I like to keep tabs on what’s happening in my adopted city, Vancouver BC, and today my Twitter pal Dixon Tam sent out a tweet about a post by our friend Gus Fosarolli in his Gus Digital blog.  It’s called “You Don’t Want to Drown Today”, and it centers on the efforts of a BC group called The Community Against Preventable Injuries to raise public awareness of drowning dangers.

Here are some sobering stats:

  • Half of the children who drown are alone and unsupervised
  • Alcohol was associated with 40% of drowning among Canadians aged 15 years and older
  • About 90% of people who drown while boating do not wear a life-jacket

The Community will be distributing beach towels and putting up signs and posters throughout BC. The overall message packs a punch:

“You’re Probably Not Expecting to Drown Today.”

Why did this post make me stop and write about this?

Because 40 years ago this summer, my cousin Robert O’Donnell drowned at the age of 17.

He was a smart, handsome boy who was loved by everyone. He was a wonderfully supportive son and brother. He had a promising life ahead of him. And it was cut short all too soon. To this day, I always wonder what the world would have been like with him here, and what he could have contributed to his family and community.

Hats off to The Community for all its hard work as it educates British Columbians that accidents can be prevented, and lives can be saved. Check them out here.

Have a happy – and safe – rest of the summer.

On Twitter? You’d Better Be Real.

A few days ago, my friend and social media maven Irene Koehler wrote a fantastic blog post entitled “11 Sure-Fire Ways to Get Me to Unfollow You on Twitter”.  After I laughed myself silly over #1 (you’ll see why), and smiled and nodded at all the others, my eyes lit again on #11.  Here’s what it says:

“You don’t get that authenticity is a key component of social media success. You have the default Twitter avatar or are using a photo of your dog. You haven’t completed your Twitter bio – come on, it is really, really easy to do. I don’t know your name and can’t find your blog, your LinkedIn profile or any other online presence…”

I couldn’t agree more.

I love Twitter.  I take it very seriously, whether I’m debating, offering advice,  or joking with friends.  Always, in the back of my mind, is one constant reminder to myself  –

Be real.

And I am, all the time.  My commitment to authenticity started with the page many people ignore, or scurry through, with no thought to content or context.

The Settings page.  Where you start to build your personal brand on Twitter.  Really.

I can almost hear the sound of heads snapping to attention.  It’s just a silly image and a tiny, insignificant bio, right?

Wrong.

If you are on Twitter to inform, engage, discuss, grow your business, join a community or support a cause, then give your brand the attention it deserves.

Think about how you want to look to the world.

I’m a strong advocate of an attractive photo or avatar that conveys something about you.  I’m not a huge fan of logos, unless you are writing exclusively for a company or product and not as yourself.  Otherwise, it’s hard to warm up to a logo in conversation.

Bios are short, but they pack a punch. And don’t forget – they are searchable, so choose your words carefully. Ask yourself a few key questions:

What do I want the world to know about me?

What is important to me right now?

What sort of people do I want to find and follow me?

Depending on how you answer, your bio may focus on your business, or the fact that you are looking for job opportunities.  Or it may be all about your hobbies, passions and talents.  Or your cats:-)

And it’s all good, because you’ve taken the time to understand what interactions you want out of Twitter.  And feel free to change the bio.  It keeps things fresh as your priorities change.

And yes, by all means add the links to your blog, Facebook or LinkedIn profiles  if they’re complementary to the brand you’re building on Twitter.

And ask for help if you need it.  Irene’s offered. So am I.  There are tons of smart, helpful people out there who would gladly offer their assistance in the name of authenticity and engagement.

We’ve had enough of names that are nothing but jibberish,  silly or offensive avatars, and NO story.  And we aren’t impressed if all you tweet about is yet another site that got you hundreds of new followers or another quick and easy way to make lots of money.

We want to talk to, learn from, share life’s moments with, and  help real people who are just as eager to do the same.

So if you are one of those people, I’d love you to follow me @CathyBrowne so I can follow you back.  For the rest of you, I have only one thing to say.

Please get real.

Twitter: For Me, It’s Not About What I’m ‘Doing’

Early last year, when I first put a tentative toe into the Twitter waters, I faithfully followed  people who responded quite literally to the question “What Are You Doing?”

They reported at fixed intervals during the day that they were hungry. Or thirsty. Or that they satisfied their hunger/thirst by eating/drinking something somewhere, and boy, was it good!!  Well, I got bored.  And impatient.  I almost gave up on Twitter. Thankfully, I had a change of heart and gave up on the masses who hungered and thirsted.

But “What Are You Doing?” remains a question I find difficult to answer.  I try hard not to report on what I’m actually doing, unless it’s either unusual, unexpected or quirky/funny.

And while Facebook’s “What’s On Your Mind?” reflects thinking as opposed to doing, it’s still not the question I’m mentally responding to when I tweet.  In fact, I think I have several.

Here are just a few:

What Am I Feeling? – Often what I post is directly related to an emotion, rather than an activity…I’m happy, sad, excited, inquisitive, thoughtful, incensed – and I want to tell people about it because that reflects who I am.

What Have I Learned? – So much of what I do on Twitter involves recommending great people and passing on valuable information  that I’ve gathered from articles, blogs, presentations and my own work/life experiences.  Twitter is a perfect vehicle for sharing what and who you know.

Does Anybody Know…? – When I have a burning question or want an opinion on anything, at any time, Twitter is the best place to be.  And whatever I learn, I re-tweet:-)

How Can I Help? –  The opportunities to support a worthy cause, to offer a helping hand,  or just listen to someone who needs a sympathetic ear are endless on Twitter.   I love to reach out whenever I can.

What Have YOU Got to Say? – I don’t want it to be all about me.  Engaging people, many of who I’m never likely to meet, is a blast.  It offers new insights, sparks conversations, builds communities, cements friendships,  and sometimes makes us laugh – and cry.

What inner questions motivate you to tweet?  I’d love to know.  Wouldn’t it be terrific to give Twitter some new food for thought?