Lawyers and other professionals often tell me they don’t have time for twitter or social media. They might have families or personal lives which keep them occupied and don’t believe me when I tell them how quick and easy it can be. So, I asked a tweeting friend, lawyer and mum of two to write a little about her own online experience and here it is.
Why I tweet
I make the time for Twitter because I enjoy it. It has improved my professional and social lives and I have made Twitter work for me. I neither worry about it nor slog away at it and yet feel I have reaped its benefits, from finding new clients, to attendees for courses I am running, to new friends. As a lawyer, Twitter is important both from a professional profile perspective, and in terms of remaining networked with the people most relevant to my work. I have never been a Facebooker, and am not particularly tech-literate (although Twitter has removed a lot of the mystique around “getting” technology and new media), but I feel that Twitter is unique, and worth the slight initial investment of time to establish yourself.
I think Twitter can be of particular use for female professionals, especially those who are more senior, probably with families and other responsibilities to consider. (I know the territory; this blog was written whilst babysitting for a friend, one of the few environments in which nothing domestic can distract me!)
When and how?
Twitter is hugely family-friendly. You can succeed with it whilst busy at work, whilst out of work, whilst on maternity leave, or in the middle of the night. It can develop your business whilst fitting entirely around your life; occupying only the space you allow it to. I have met new clients and found services I need to use, via Twitter, whilst on holiday, feeding the baby, trudging about exhausted from looking after wakeful kids, on my way into the office in the morning, and on my way to the pub in the evening.
I like to think I have a healthy approach to my smartphone (an essential tool whilst looking after a family – forget finding the time to log in online). I turn it off at night, don’t allow phones at the dinner table, and only use it when my children are otherwise occupied (as far as possible…). It only takes 10 seconds to tap out a tweet, and it is easy to compose them in advance whilst doing other things and then press send later.
Mentions and direct messages can pop up and be checked in a similar way to text messages, and tweets can be “favourited” (saved) to be dealt with later. If Twitter starts sending you too many update emails, you can change your settings and get rid of them.
All of this minor maintenance is very possible whilst commuting/getting to nursery/looking after the children/in-between meetings. Twitter doesn’t require a smart suit or preparation time, and it doesn’t observe classic office hours. Twitter is best enjoyed post-kids-bedtime, at your own pace.
Women are great at Twitter
Effective use of Twitter demands patience and emotional intelligence. Arguably these are traits with which women are often (but of course, not always) better supplied, and often hone whilst caring for children. Patience with Twitter is needed to ensure that you consider carefully what you are planning to say, whether you should retweet someone else’s opinion or comment, how you should respond to a complaint or rude message, and how thorough you are in your responses to others. Getting any of these things wrong can give a poor or inaccurate impression of who you are. Emotional intelligence can ensure that you phrase tweets on sensitive matters in the best possible way, ensure diplomacy, and keep clients happy.
There is a rather nice habit practised by professionals on Twitter of sharing certain aspects of their private lives, within reason of course. This openness is the “down the pub” element of Twitter that is so appealing – and so parent-friendly. You can have a quick chat with a potential client about an article they have retweeted which you both find interesting then nip upstairs to try to coax the toddler back to sleep. Again it allows people to get to know you in a unique and ultimately voluntary way (they have chosen to follow you), and increases the feeling of an established relationship before you have even met or spoken to the person you are conversing with. All of this whilst you get on with whatever it is you need to be doing at home, or wherever you find yourself at the time.
What’s the catch?
There isn’t one, unless you get hacked (change your password and send a single tweet apologising – it happens), or like Twitter so much you get utterly obsessed with it. The real value of Twitter is the ability to show your personality, abilities, and work product to anyone who is interested in your own time, in your own words, and in a way that you manage, to a group which is likely to increase exponentially (along with your exposure to peers and potential clients) as you enjoy the genuinely social side of conversing and sharing information.
Twitter is an innately female-friendly medium which allows you to network in an entirely new way; a way which has total respect for the other demands on your time. Enjoy it!