20 October 2009

Professional Persona Primer for Twitter

Does your professional persona on Twitter have a firewall around the excruciatingly irrelevant minutiae of your day-to-day existence?

Twitter asks,
What are you doing? 
Ignore this question. There are scant circumstances where a professional community gives are rat's lip about what you're doing. If tempted to answer the question What are you doing?, think teenage boy with too much Axe cologne. It's repulsive.

If you're thoughtful, self-effacing, marginally witty, and have some dumb luck, your professional community might care to know the answer to
What are you thinking?
I chafe at hard-fast rules. But I have considered a few rules-of-thumb for cultivating your professional persona on Twitter. Consider my Twitter heuristics.

Following are 3 reasons to follow you, and 3 reasons to unfollow you.

follow you when you
  1. Tweet smart, provocative ideas (i.e., original or properly attributed ideas)
  2. RT something smart I've tweeted
  3. Follow people with smart tweets
I unfollow you if you practice chirpitude (rhymes with turpitude) like
  1. Whine about your road woes, e.g.,  "No upgrade to business class", while I'm cube-warming in hell.
  2. Inform me of what you're eating, e.g.,  "Picked up Gyro at Kabobi"
  3. Incessantly regurgitate links, mentions, and RTs for people in the same community I follow.
More about chirpitude in Information Discovery and Chirpitude.

Groom Your Persona

Make smart assertions and smart observations based on your boot-on-the-ground experience. Be sure to pass on the smart assertions and observations of others; particularly those outside the tag cloud of your professional community. It's appealing to be provocative as long as you're not the boy who cried wolf.

If you can't help yourself from hurling inconsequential slobber into the ether, create another persona that reflects the pitifully vacuous life most of us lead.

Twitter is a killer micro-blogging forum. Revel in the challenge of Twitter's 140 character limit!  Last summer I challenged the agile community with an exercise to write user stories with a 140 character limit (see User Story Tweets).

Twitter Is Like

Twitter is a like a haiku when you're not committed to a novel. Figure out what your professional persona should be. If you're a letter turner in a skin-tight body suit

  • I want to know about interesting phrases you've encountered. 
  • I don't want to know when you're stuck in traffic.