‘It started with a tweet.’

Five stories from seven years on Twitter.

In 24 hours this week I saw the best and worst of being on Twitter. On Wednesday I’d engaged with the TV journalist Krishnan Guru-Murthy about his Channel 4 interview with Robert Downey Jr. That triggered a flood of messages in my feed from unhappy fans replying to both of us, mostly unpleasant.

Anyway, that was the bad.

But now for the good stuff. That same day I’d been preparing to give a workshop on how to leverage Twitter for your business or career, when a notification popped up. Marianne Cantwell happened to tweet out my 2013 Medium post about the value of Twitter, “Enough with the ROI. Just follow your curiosity.” Marianne reminded me we met on Twitter which led to her getting a book deal from my editor.

Later that day I was running the workshop, evangelising to a group of sixteen people why they should bother with Twitter. Nothing beats a story, so I shared these five stories from my seven years on Twitter:

#1 Melissa — an invitation to Austin Texas

Story #1. It’s December 2008 and I’m at my kitchen table in Leigh-on-Sea wondering out loud on Twitter whether to go to SXSW Interactive next year. Over in Chicago a woman named Melissa Pierce sees my tweet. She gets in touch —would I like to co-present a panel with her, ‘Is The Planned Life Even Worth Living’? In March 2009 I’m at Austin Texas, on a journey of onward encounters and opportunities that we triggered with that single — and quite random — tweet.

#2 Tom - a book review from a rebel MP

Story #2. It’s a Friday evening in July 2009 and I’m watching TV. Bored with a chat show I switch channels to BBC Parliament and happen to catch a parliamentary select committee featuring Tom Watson MP. I tweet that I am watching him, we start following each other. A couple of months later I tweet out if any bloggers want to review my upcoming book ‘Juggle! Rethink work, reclaim your life’. Tom replies that he’ll review it! He gives me a great review, saying I helped him rediscover the ‘inner rebel’ (this from the MP who famously stood up to Rupert Murdoch).

#3 Dave - meeting a rock-star & getting a book deal

Story #3. It’s April 2010 and I’m walking up London’s Wardour Street when the bearded guy in shades who passes me looks familiar. I tweet that I think I just saw Dave Stewart. “That was me, stuck here because of volcano,” the musician/ entrepreneur tweets back, referencing the erupting Icelandic volcano whose ash cloud had shut down European airspace, preventing Dave from getting home to LA. As a result of that tweet, we met one Sunday afternoon and taped an interview.

If that wasn’t enough of an ROI on a tweet, after our meeting Dave and I connected on LinkedIn; and then, in another blink-and-you-miss-it moment, I saw that Dave had a new contact — a woman named Liz Gooster. That surname made me inquisitive, so I clicked on her. She was editor of Dave’s new book ‘Business Playground’ and I started following her on Twitter. That got her attention, she checked out my website and in July that year Liz emailed me asking if I wanted to write a book for her. ‘Zoom! The Faster Way To Make Your Business Idea Happen’, came out the following year.

#4 Ravi - getting a gig writing for The Financial Times

Story #4. One morning in October 2010 I shared an article written by the FT’s Ravi Mattu in a Twitter conversation with the management writer Tom Peters. I didn’t name-check Ravi, but he saw the tweet and thanked us. That started a Twitter relationship that was cemented with a face-to-face meeting a year or so after. In 2012 he commissioned me to start a regular assignment writing for the Financial Times ‘Business Life’ pages. Of course, we had to meet in person before we worked together, but it all started on Twitter.

#5 Adrian - a behind the scenes pass to Davos

Story #5. It’s January 2015 and I’m in the digital media command centre at The World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos. This is the view out of the window.

I’m here all week working freelance behind the scenes as part of the WEF digital media team. But I’m here for one reason — because I met WEF’s MD of Public Engagement Adrian Monck on Twitter in 2013, after I RT’d one of his tweets. We established a relationship from there…

So five opportunities. Five opportunities that I’ve been privileged to enjoy. But remember that they happened for only one reason:

They all started with a connection on Twitter. They started with a tweet.


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