"Tweaking your Twitter" sounds a bit odd.  But the following LinkedIn posting "What's a friend worth?"  makes an excellent business case for linking your social networking tools to advance your patent search business, law business or professional friendships.  http://tinyurl.com/p4vm7r (Tools:  LinkedIn, Twitter, Blackberry) The article reinforces the fact that I, for one, am not using social networking tools as much as I should.

Sherri Voebel,  Patentskill LLC 


  1. Hi Sherri, thanks for posting this article.  This subject has been of real interest to me lately.  One of the biggest challenges I have been finding with social networking is just the time-sink aspect of it.  I think it's probably true that the more you put into it, the more you get out of it.  Then on top of that you have to do your job!

    The other struggle with social networking I think is establishing your professional persona.  One of our goals with Intellogist is to connect with the community and one of the ways we are doing this is to actively engage in conversations rather than just to ceaselessly self promote.  We have a Twitter account now which we all post to, regarding patent-search related topics, and I think it has worked rather well, although we're still finding our exact niche. I think it's refreshing to be able to discuss professional subjects without sounding wooden and "corporate" all the time.  It's as if the world has acknowledged that professionals have personalities and interests too, and it's okay to wear both hats in the same arena, which is great.

    LinkedIn is a little bit more scary to me though. The whole thing with your profile essentially being your resume, and the whole "ask for recommendations" thing, just kind of intimidates me.  I have not been able to find the value in the question-and-answer section of the site yet, although I hear it praised from various quarters as a way to be perceived as an "expert" in your field.

    I have actually had a lot of fun with Delicious - Intellogist has set up an account and it is actually a relief to get organized that way.  Just knowing that we can now all add to the collective group resource of bookmarks has been a nice knowledge management solution internally, and I hope a few outside folks have found it to be a good resource as well.

    If anybody else is on Delcious, care to share usernames?  We can get linked up through the Networking feature of the tool...

    Thanks again for the post Sherri!!!

    (I edited this post to add spacing)

  2. Sherri's post looked like a good opportunity to update people on my experiences with Twitter so far and provide some suggestions for people who are looking to get the most out of this service.

    Bottom line:  While twitter can be a time sink and it took me a little while to find ways to manage the flow of information I now find it to be an invaluable contributer to my daily information network (which includes mailing lists via email and monitoring about 100 different RSS feeds).  There have been several (on the order of a half dozen or more) occasions in the last two weeks where I have learned about significant internet postings that made a major impact on my day to day job by using twitter.  These particular items only came in through my twitter stream and would have been lost to me other wise.

    So, a small amount of background, I have been using twitter for 67 days.  I have 232 followers and 312 people that I am following and I have posted 594 times using the service.  For people who use the service regularly I am a middle of the road user.  232 followers and following 312 are relatively small numbers compared to power users who have well over a thousand of each and celebrities who have 100,000s of thousands or millions of followers.  I consider myself fortunate to have this many followers and I receive at least a small amount of value from about 40% of the people I am following.

    I mention this since twitter gets a lot more interesting once your followers and the people you are following gets into the mid-double digits.  Before this point people will struggle to see the point of why you are engaging in this activity.  So rule number 1 in twitter is that in order to get followers you have to actively go and follow people yourself and you need to post items of interest on a fairly regular basis.

    On a personal level again I stayed away from twitter for a long time since I didn't see how talking about what I had for lunch would be of interest to people.  When I decided to participate I also decided that I would post the URLs of the articles that I was reading on a daily basis and that seeing my reading list might be of interest to other people.  Well, silly me, I learned very quickly that posting URLs of interest is what most people do and that tweets with imbedded URLs make up the majority of the messages that get exchanged.  In some ways this is a little like delicious where people post bookmarks and tags for people to share but it is much more interesting since you can post commentary along with the URLs (you will learn quickly about URL shorteners that are designed to allow you to deliver your URL in the smallest number of characters possible so you can use the remainder of your 140 characters to explain to people why they should care about the item).

    I decided early on that there were three areas that I was going to focus my tweets on, patents, chemistry and Apple products. Any one who knows me recognizes that these are defining interests for me and so it is easy for me to invest in building a community around these areas.  In building my network of followers and people I follow I concentrated on patents and went looking for good IP people to follow.  One resource for that is the list of IP Professionals that use Twitter which has been put together by Stephen Nipper of the Invent Blog at http://inventblog.com/ip-attorneys-on-twitter. I was able to find several people to link to here and fortunately for me many of them have followed me in return.  There are other ways to find people to follow and the other one I will mention here is that I use a search term for #patent (a # notifies the users that this is meant to be an index term as opposed to just using the word in normal speech) and I look at all of the users who use this term and consider if they are someone I want to follow.  This method alone will bring you an amazingly diverse collection of people to follow.

    On the same account I get people who follow me based on my use of hash tags and then after looking at their profiles I decide if they are worth following or not.  Along these same lines I have also made a number of connections within my local technology community and this has led to me being a presenter at an Ignite Columbus event coming up on June 19th.

    As this post is growing a little long I will end with another piece of advice.  Once you get a reasonable number of people that you are following you will find that your twitter stream will get quite large (mine is on the order of 3-7 tweets per minute 24/7) and that you need some way to manage it otherwise it will completly consume you.  I am currently managing my stream by using a piece of software called TweetDeck that allows me to organize the people I follow into groups.  I currently have four groups, IP people (which I look at most closely), celebrities (which is good for a little voyeuristic fun and you would be amazed how involved some celebrities are with their community of followers), tweets I like (the catch all for everyone else who doesn't fall in the first two categories but usually has something entertaining or useful to say) and all friends.  All friends barely gets paid attention to and I mostly scan the picture of the posters to see if there is someone in there who I should move to one of the other groups.  This approach makes the process managable but there are still times when I just have to acknowledge that I can't keep up with everything and let some items float away unnoticed.  This was difficult for me since I am diligent on email and RSS feeds but with the volume of content on twitter (even with the modest set of people I follow) I soon found I had no choice.

    If people are interested I will post some additional experiences as well.

    Twitter is different than LinkedIn and other networking tools I use and the investment has been worth the committment.



    1. Tony, thanks for a great post. Despite having read a lot about Twitter in the media, I've had a hard time seeing how I might use it in a productive manner professionally. (I don't have much interest in using it for personal communication a la Facebook). Your succint yet detailed summary showed how it might be a useful addition to my daily workflow. Whether I follow through on that is another matter, of course! I would be interested in hearing more when you have the time and inclination to post.



  3. Interestingly enough, I recently read this article (which I found by reading a BNet post). Among the findings are that the number of friends or followers isn't as important as the relationships between those friends. They found that someone who has a very large number of friends actually has less influence over their network.

    1. Donna.  Thanks for sharing the article.  Perhaps quality is diluted by quantity.  I  am not questioning the value of social networks, inasmuch as I am trying to determine how to best utilize Twitter. Tony provided some solid examples.

      Before you become a professional twit ( (big grin)  PT for short).  There is a another must-read article published on the Executive Resume Branding Blog, entitled: Twitter Evaluation: The One Month Itch.  It makes some sense and includes an interesting take-away on the topic of personal branding and value.  There is also a beneficial article link good for anyone making a career change: Twitter: trade secrets on personal branding, job search and online identity for C-level executives. 

      Questions this article addresses

      • Is there branding and networking value in Twitter?
      • Is there any other value in Twitter?
      • Am I addicted to Twitter?

      keyterms:  career management best practices, networking, online identity, personal leadership branding, social  media, the executive job search, twitter..