When The High Tea Cast’s tweet about “Making friends and influencing people – online style” popped up on my Twitter timeline, I’m glad I tapped on the link.

Reading Sam’s views on the value of friendships formed online made me realise how I’ve overcome some tough career challenges with a the help of few thousand 140-character exchanges with strangers.

To anyone not sold on the power of social media, I can see how this may sound a little odd.  Please let me explain.

I am (and to be absolutely clear I’m talking in strictly workplace terms here) a loner.  A standalone PR person in an organisation that does a fantastic job, but sadly understands very little about the world of communications.  My way of working can be described as autonomous, but all too often feels more like ‘left to get on with it’.

Loner at Work

I’ve written and shared my views/moaned about the highs and lows of working alone in the past, concluding the main issues with solo working are missing like-minded folks with whom to share ideas, and a lack of reassurance and encouragement.  Things which are perhaps taken as a given by those surrounded by a supportive team.

My job is missing what I consider some pretty important factors, but here’s some good news.  I’ve found something to fill the gaps.Around 18 months ago, having finally sussed that it was so much more than just a stream of weird codes and Facebook status updates, I joined team Twitter.   I followed some funny, creative and interesting people, some of them followed me back, and we and started to talk.  Guess what? Now I’m part of a whole new gang. I think I might have found my dream team!

Whilst being social media savvy on a professional level is absolutely essential for anyone in the world of PR and communications, for me it’s made a big difference on a personal level too.  In a relatively short space of time, and through a series of micro-exchanges, my virtual network have stepped in and provided the much needed workplace back up I don’t get in the real world.

Twitter at Work

Through Twitter, and increasingly through my adventures into the blogging world, a bunch of people I don’t really know have:

  • Shared – People online are a generous bunch.  They’ll gladly give you a handy link to some bang-on advice, or an invaluable contact.
  • Encouraged– commented on my new blog posts, suggested ways to get more exposure for my blog, wished me luck with an intranet launch.
  • Understood – They get what I’m trying to do, and why I’m trying to do it. Or at least give that impression.  Added bonus – even if they are reading your tweet with a baffled face, at least you won’t know!
  • Inspired – Sometimes ideas are a no-show, and minus a team to ask for help, Twitter provides a whole world of inspiration from which to draw – the brilliant to the insane is at your fingertips.
  • Thanked – These online folk are sometimes a lot more polite than the ones you encounter in real life, they’ll thank you for a retweet, or for answering their question.
  • Distracted – I’m not advocating any kind of office slacking, but if a link to a lovely pair of shoes pops up whilst I’m research into the best way to engage employees, I can’t promise I wouldn’t take a very quick look…

I’m not saying I don’t get any of the above from colleagues, and I’m not in any way dismissing the value of face to face interactions or a good old fashioned phone call.   There is however no denying my extended online family are an invaluable addition to my workplace confidence-boosting bag of tricks.

So I don’t think I can end in any way other than giving a great big #FF to Team Twitter!


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