Twitter logo I’m not sure when I started using the social networking tool Twitter, but it must have been at least a year ago, in view of the fact that I was posting about it in April last year.

At the time I was ambivalent about whether for me it was a distraction or helpful to business.

Part of my concern back then was that I focused too much on the conceptual premise of Twitter, that it was a means of answering, succinctly (within 140 characters) the question “What are you doing?”. That’s the social networking side of things and you could – no doubt many do – use Twitter just for socializing, knowing what your friends are up to and letting them know when you are having a coffee, going to a movie, feeling glum or ecstatic or whatever.

But for many of us, Twitter has also – or more of – a role in how we manage our working/business day. Off the top of my head, here are five that work for me:

  • working solo, it is an excellent way to get help with developing an idea or finding a piece of information, without having to put that on any one person or use the much more cumbersome and slow process of sending emails or phoning people up
  • it is an excellent way of overcoming some of the mental echo chamber effect of working solo
  • it is often a very practical tool for connecting with colleagues across time zones and geographical boundaries – if I want to talk to a colleague in China or the USA and I see them posting a message on Twitter I know they are around and somewhat available, even if it is not a time when I would feel that it’s civilized or even rational to phone – I can send a message on the open thread or a direct message via Twitter or other DM tool
  • it’s a terrific way of finding out from people you trust about events, new software or new online tools
  • because my contacts have conversations with other people who are or may one day be colleagues or otherwise significant in my line of work, I can “follow” them for a while and often they will reciprocate and “follow” me, which for me is a more “loosely coupled”, less intrusive way of us getting to know one another than, say, “friending” someone on Facebook or other social networking sites (actually I think “friending” on Facebook has quite trivialized the meaning of the word “friend”, but that’s another post, some day, maybe)

So a year on, I am quite sure it is good for my business, or at least for “my life in business”.

(Update: I meant to acknowledge that this post was prompted by the thoughts Shel Israel shared in his post on his policy about Twitter followers.)

What about you? Have you used Twitter? Do you find it a time-waster or is it somehow helpful for your business, even if that is just from the “having company while you work solo” aspect?

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