I’ve tried a couple of times this week to write something about this, but words have been failing me. As the picture indicates, today I am beginning to be sick with symptoms of the flu and am even less lucid than usual, but I am determined to leave this page open until this post is done.
A bit of backstory first, as I know when I share this it will be the first visit for many. I work in Silicon Valley, CA and am in the semiconductor industry. My company had a layoff in October of this year, and I was quite shaken by it, even though I kept my job. For one thing, my husband takes care of our young children as a stay-home Dad (by choice), so I am the breadwinner of the family. With our financial stability at stake, I decided to hunt for other work just in case.
In this awakening and subsequent job hunt, I began interacting with a few people using my previously dormant Twitter account.
It started with Xeesm.com in Palo Alto. I applied for a position, and as part of their application process, I was required to find the hiring manager and other employees in social media, wherever they might be, and to get to know them.
So, that got me started, and then I also followed people at other companies I was interested in working for. I followed people that I had interviewed with or spoken with about my job hunt. Then, I started looking at their “following” lists, and followed people who looked interesting or worked at local startup companies that also might be hiring. I was mostly listening, but had a few significant interactions that piqued my interest in the medium even more.
I have been a heavy Livejournal user in the past, and switched over to using Facebook as my folks migrated over. But with those tools, I used social media as a tool to reach out to people I already knew. This Twitter thing was different. Most of the people I was listening to were total strangers.
At first I was lost in the “noise” of Twitter. Gradually, something gently shifted. I found out that I could talk to someone much more “important” than myself, and that if I was clever enough in my “tweet,” that they might say something back. I began to understand the conventions of retweeting. People thanked me for my retweets, and thus I learned that to RT was a compliment.
Through this gentle, slow acclimation, I found my first handful of twitter “friends.” These were people who I could talk directly at using their @username, and reliably count on a response. We began joking together, holding leisurely, day-spanning conversations back and forth in response to trending topics and news, or sharing useful and relevant blog posts.
I also experienced and participated in several “viral” twitter events, like the #iamspartacus #twitterjoketrial, or @nerdyappleblossom’s blog post about her son’s Halloween costume.
I downloaded and read @chrisbrogan’s book, Trust Agents, and participated in my first ever chat, #mmchat. Basically, I got comfortable in Twitter and began to sense just how extraordinary the medium could be.
This is getting much lengthier than I intended, so let’s fast forward to a couple of weeks ago. I was relaxing in my main “stream,” as at that time I didn’t have any other. One of the people I was following posted an article that interested me, about getting things done. At the end of his tweet was the #usguys hashtag. Now, by this time I habitually made up joke hashtags, so I thought this was just an off-the-cuff invention.
I gently chided the user, @IanMRountree, thinking that he was underrating women in only directing his useful article to what I presumed was a masculine audience. He cheerfully replied to include #usgirls, and that could very well have been the end of the story. But something made me click on the hashtag, and then it dawned on me that this was not just a throwaway, but linked up a whole group of people. I’m sorry to say that my first act was to scold them for the #usguys handle! (Little did I know.)
So, needless to say if you are reading this coming from the #usguys stream, I was hit immediately with an enthusiastic #ringthetribalbell from @REALChaseAdams.
The next day I had at least 10 new “followers.” Not only that, but people were talking to me, people I had never talked to before. This got my attention, as it had NEVER happened before to me on twitter. (I was always trying to get someone ELSE to talk to me, before.) I was thinking, who are these people?? Soon afterward, I found Chase’s #usguys explanation page, and things started to make more sense.
What can I say? I joined the tribe. More people talked to me. I made more friends. Some of my existing twitter friends joined the tribe. The next thing I know, I was offering to meet people in person, in San Francisco. Now I’ve organized at least four meetups, adventures yet to come.
#iamsohooked #whatisthis #whatsnext
Love, Jackie AKA @jackinessity