A Twitter story

A while back I decided I was going to get involved with Twitter. It was in part because the company I was working with seemed to be obsessed by it and I wanted in on the action. It was partly because I was looking for a way to connect with other people and talk about things outside of family life and kids.

That was three years ago. In the early days Twitter was a fun distraction. A way to pass the time when time allowed. I tried to find some people I thought I could connect with. Folk in the L&D field, HR field and the likes. It took time and I eventually found some few people that I started connecting with in small ways.

From there it progressed quite rapidly. Suddenly there was a tweetup is Twitter folk who used a hashtag called #connectinghr. There was an unconference which attracted a lot of attention. There were these blogs being written about all sorts of fascinating topics and I started paying attention to them. Even my writing in those early days was mostly just rants and the odd post about something worth talking about. #hrblogs became a core source of finding some brilliant writing.

Then there was another tweetup I decided I’d try attending, and suddenly met all these people. And that’s where life started to become really interesting. These people were actively interested in supporting each other and creating a much more refined community. It was seriously attractive and very compelling. I bonded with various other Twitter users and forged friendships with some, ongoing discussions with others and the network kept growing.

Through all this time I was encouraged. I found my voice in a world I didn’t know I was going to be part of. I grew more confident in wanting to be more involved and supportive where I could.

The time came where I felt there was enough people I had connected with that I could put forth the idea of the L&D community to come together and forge their own path. #ldconnect and #ldblogs was born and we’ve started to really help move the L&D conversation in some interesting ways. Opportunities for partnering and progression have developed with industry bodies and groups.

Somewhere along the line I started to gain a following independent of the mutual I follow you, you follow me thing. It’s been nice to see how that happens. Sometimes I lose followers. Sometimes I gain them. It all works itself out and I just quietly muse about the way these things unfold.

I’ve enjoyed this unfolding of Twitter life. It’s created a sense of purpose I didn’t expect to find, and a way of being I didn’t expect to be. The people are what makes it a continuing pleasure and what motovates me to keep at it.

Tonight was a chance to meet up again with people who use Twitter, and I’ll be doing it in a different way on Monday. It is affirming to know the community still wants tolve forward, and I like being part of it.

In time life will move on and other things will take priority. Until then I enjoy connecting and talking with you all who choose to honour me with your presence and dialogue.

>I’m a sharing soul

>Last night I attended an event for folks who use social media, Twitter in particular, to have a tweet-up. Those of you who follow me know of this as #ConnectingHR. It’s odd going to an event like this. You talk to these people on Twitter. You’re kind to each other, and you have an interaction of sorts. You can’t really call it a relationship because there’s no vested interest in the other party. Not really. We might help and we might offer support, but you can’t do much more virtually. But you know, in your mind, that you don’t care if these people listen to you, if you offend them, or if they like you, because they’re not real. Not really. Of course, they’re real, but you know, they’re not to you, because there’s no relationship.

And then you decide you’re going to meet up. Not just one or two of you, but all of you who talk. It’s reminiscent of the old chatroom scenarios. You remember those. Bob lives in England, Karen lives in Fiji. They talk, they think they have a spark, they agree to meet and either they find they really do have a spark, or it was all based on false perceptions. But this was nothing like that. At all.

So the first #ConnectingHR event was last year, another after that, an unconference followed, and then last night the first tweet-up of the year. Right. So I’m off to meet a group of folk who share a hashtag. WTF? Are you fucking serious? Yes. Absolutely. Erm. Why exactly? Because we’re a community. Ok. Now you’re just talking nonsense.

Am I? Twitter is where I am me. I tweet about everything under the sun. I mix personal, with professional with work with food with my children. This a) gives those following me a complete insight into who I am b) fills up timelines because I tweet so damned much. On a night like last night though, that leaves me in an interesting position. I knew there would be folk there who actually read my tweets. They respond – actively – to what I say. For whatever reason they do this, they do this. I’m grateful for that. So going into the pub, the first thought that struck me was – Fuck. This is like going on a blind date where the other person actually knows an awful lot about you already, but they have no idea who you are. And having a Twitter handle such as @LearningGrump (nee @naturalgrump) makes things even more interesting as often folks just have their names as their handles, so mine is a bit more distinctive than most.

And then we say hello. And you look round the room recognising folk. Bob! Billy! Ben! And you connect immediately. Because you already know each other. Because all you’re doing is putting faces and real people to the names. And you find they’re just as wonderful in real life as they are on Twitter. I didn’t need to meet these folk in real life to help me know I have a supportive community. It’s helped, as now I can associate better with all of them. More importantly, though, I can now build relationships with them.