Friday, May 14, 2010

Utter strangers, now muses, I met on Twitter: A #followfriday list

I was sitting at a cafe table in a conference center, skipping sessions so I could have a leisurely breakfast and catch up on blogging. He rushed past, stopped, backed up, looked at me and asked, "Are you @dontgetcaught?"  I said yes, but wondered how he knew? He pointed to my screen, where my handle on my Blogger interface was loud and clear, but he really knew me from somewhere else: Twitter.

That's how I met fellow Tweeter and nutrition science writer David DespainDavid Krumlauf, chief technologist for a private foundation in Chicago, and I met similarly:  We were at the same conference, both live-tweeting, and a few rows ahead of me, I saw my website come up on his laptop--so I tweeted about it, and he identified himself in a return tweet.  (We both still tell that story, too.)  They've both become regular sources for me.

Don't get me wrong: I have wonderful friends who've made the transition to Twitter with me, and on it, we're deepening those relationships just fine. But skeptics wonder at arm's length about sharing your insights on Twitter with "just anybody" and that no real connection gets made between strangers.  I say that some of my most fruitful contributors, clients and collaborators have started out as strangers I met on Twitter. So, in addition to the two Davids, here are a few of my recommended follows, all people I might not otherwise have met but for Twitter. Many of us have sought one another out in person (and I'd love to meet the rest). Herewith, a small sampler for #followfriday, the day on which we on Twitter recommend others to follow:
  1. Emily Culbertson:  Emily and I have plenty in common--we're both alumni of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, albeit a decade or so apart, but I met her on Twitter. I value what she shares from a web planner's perspective, and I love the questions she asks me about public speaking issues. When Emily asks, I usually wind up blogging, which means she's a great thinker about content.  And then there's the recipe-sharing. We've met in real life, and it's as if we're just continuing a great conversation.
  2. Joe Bonner:  A university communications director, Joe's a client who engaged me from our connection on Twitter; we didn't meet till I showed up to work.  He's one of the best curators on the topics that matter most to me--communications and social media, plus music and food--and one who takes in 100 times more information than he's sharing. We discovered that we've attended the same conference for years, but didn't meet until Twitter. I can only imagine what I was missing.
  3. Tim Windsor: A smart digital strategist at Johns Hopkins University, Tim won me over utterly and completely when he appended "Beavis wept" and re-tweeted this from @BreakingNews: "US def. sec. calls Guantanamo "taint" on US reputation."  He crafts a good, laugh-out-loud tweet, and takes particular care with them.  Do put your coffee down before reading, just in case.
  4. Concrete ThinkerJust the handle alone stands out. This is Patricia Flesher, who tweets for the Portland Cement Association deftly, focusing on sustainability and consumer information, but with enough reality that you can tell there's a real person doing it. She's a great example for associations, industries and other organizations that need an "official" presence on Twitter, and I use her as such with my clients and in my presentations.
  5. Sarah MilsteinEsteemed company here: She's an early user of Twitter; co-author of The Twitter Book; and co-chair of the Web 2.0 Expo.  More important to me: Sarah is another one whose out-loud queries on Twitter wind up feeding content for The Eloquent Woman blog, in particular.  Sarah confronts tough questions--she's an astonishing thinker--and when I write about the topics she suggests, the posts attract a wide audience.  We've also met in person, and one of these days, I expect, we will compare shoe collections.
  6. StephanieMcAuliffe:  Stephanie directs program effectiveness for the Packard Foundation, and proffers a stream that's useful, cheerful, and thoughtful.  A great networker and thinker who takes a lot in.  We haven't met, but I'd love to give her lunch and hear more in person; you will feel the same way about her Twitter stream. She possesses a strong vision for what foundations can do to be more effective, and is sharing that online.
  7. Bill Romanos:  I've spent a career communicating science, but you just can't beat Bill, a corporate attorney and super-Tweeter with broad interests that happen to include most of science (and much more).  While many are wringing their hands about how to engage public audiences about science, Bill--not a scientist, just a fan--quietly built a following in the tens of thousands by sharing good information that comes across his path.  A Renaissance tweeter I read every day.
  8. Olivia Mitchell:  A fellow speaker and presentation coach, Olivia lives half a world away in New Zealand.  I found her first-rate blog first and her Twitter account shortly thereafter, and she is a smart observer of the ways in which it's changing public speaking. I had the pleasure of hosting Olivia and her partner on their swing through Washington this spring, and liked her just as I thought I would. Speakers, she's a worthy follow with information you can trust.
  9. Katie Parla:   Katie's a food blogger who spends most of her time in Rome, but has chronicled good eating in London (used it on my most recent trip), Turkey, New York and more.  No one can make me hungry like Katie Parla, and I'd hire her to take me around Rome anytime.  She's a great read and generous tweeter, but do watch out: Her own tastes are adventuresome. You'll learn a lot, you'll salivate, then you'll go off and cook something. I nearly always do.
All of these people have a few things in common:  They write and share great content, so I'm more likely to stop and read what put forward, knowing it's worth my time. If I miss their tweets in real-time, they're saved in my reader so I can stay up to speed. They work hard but have great senses of humor and aren't afraid to share something of themselves aside from their work.  And--my greatest compliment--they prompt new thinking in me that generally leads to my most creative work, a priceless quality.  Here's hoping you find your own set like this one.

I have a new page on Facebook for don't get caught--and will be starting discussions and floating ideas there before they appear on this blog.  Check it out and join the community!


Emily Culbertson said...

Many thanks for including me! I'm humbled by the company.

As they used to say in the early blogosphere above blogrolls: READ EVERYONE.

Best regards,

The Event Planning Group, LLC said...

I remain a steadfast admirer of your technological prowess,and look forward to our lunch so that I can learn how to become the same!