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By Mike Leipart, CMO of The Agency

This is not a blog about how Twitter, or any other social media, is going to help your career skyrocket. I’ll leave that to the plethora of so-called gurus who haunt these channels like a bully looking for lunch money. What I do want to discuss today is why you should be using Twitter for your own personal enjoyment. No Temple of Gold, but just because you will like it; and if done right, you’ll be enriched with a steady flow of knowledge and perhaps a few new friends along the way.

You are busy, right? Not enough hours in the day to return phone calls, stay in touch with family and take care of your life. The last thing you need is to know what that kid who sat across from you in eleventh grade algebra had for lunch. I get it, but that is Facebook, not Twitter. Facebook is a fine place but after I figured out who was successful and whose metabolism shut down in a big way after college, there wasn’t much left. I do enjoy seeing pictures of my friends’ children, but to me, Facebook is little more than a giant reunion that I can attend when, and as long, as I choose.

People often say, “I set up a Twitter account awhile back, I don’t get it.” I always ask “Who do you follow?” and they name off three friends who also have accounts. That’s Facebook. Twitter is not like that. Where Facebook is about people you already know, Twitter is about connecting with people you may not already know but want to because of their interests and what they are saying about those interests. Take Politics for example. Almost all of the people you read and watch on the nightly news and talking head shows have Twitter accounts and post during the day about what is going on in politics. Sports? Dining? Entertainment? Health? Yes, yes, yes and yes. Virtually every topic is represented by some of the most influential and knowledgeable people in its space.

Some of the people or institutions I follow are a who’s who of sports, entertainment and politics; all subjects I’m interested in. I’ve also, along the way, picked up strangers (who aren’t anymore) that have battled disease, weight and personal loss and watched them triumph or accept their hand. It’s a Kodak commercial, a lifetime movie, and a big hug all in one, and I’m the better person for it. I meet people often in work that I follow, and I can tell you that the conversation is infinitely more productive for it.

Sounds time consuming? Maybe in the beginning. It takes a little time to find the right people to follow. After that, the information and conversation flow. You can check Twitter in your down time, i.e. on hold, waiting rooms, boring meetings, or use a third party app like Tweetdeck that makes it quick and easy to follow conversations. You will see a series of small posts that usually have links to longer articles on said topic. Skim through to the ones that you want or need to know right then and click on article. Twitter is YOUR personal news aggregator. It’s what you are interested in by the people you choose and trust. It takes very little time to stay abreast of what you care about. Maybe you don’t want to be the neighborhood Cliff Clavin, but knowledge certainly never hurts.

Last week I was in a meeting with a developer who builds apartments across the country, and we were discussing the challenges of training the leasing staff. He said that more than any formalized training he wished they would pick up a newspaper. As in, be able to maintain a conversation with a host of different people. It’s sad that well-rounded conversationalists would be hard to find, but they are, and in sales it is your greatest attribute. You can’t orchestrate what the client will connect with you on. You need as many quivers as possible. Twitter will help with that. And maybe it will grow your business after all.

Follow Mike on Twitter – @MikeTheAgencyRE