May 08 2009

Twitter for boring professionals?

In 1987, when I joined the Halcrow group of consulting engineers as a member of the then Hammersmith, London-based marketing and PR team, we were down the corridor from the Tunnels and Tunnelling department, and (in those pre-email days) used to get occasional wry internal memos with clippings from the Yellow Pages telephone directory reading “Boring – see: Civil Engineers”.

For me, civil engineering was far from boring (I ended up spending seven years with Halcrow, and I remain fascinated by the profession and its achievements); other professions seemed far less interesting – accountancy, law, quantity surveying….

Today I have been re-reading two articles from Accountancy Age regarding Twitter, and the sage advice from Tweeting accountant Mark Lee could equally have been written for many similarly “boring” construction professionals:

Business or social? It depends how you choose to use twitter, what you tweet about and who you follow. If you follow all the internet marketing enthusiasts, the celebrity twitterers and the novices who don’t really ‘get it’ you’ll certainly consider twitter a waste of time.

You may know some of your ‘followers’ personally. Others will find you through friends, through real time searches to do with accountancy and tax or subjects of mutual interest. There are loads of would be twitter spammers ­ but if you don’t follow them they can’t spam you! And you choose who you follow. If you don’t like the way that someone tweets, ‘unfollow’ them. …

As well as friends and business associates I follow other commentators, some journalists, some firms, some publications and some organisations.

Substitute “accounting and tax” with words that interest you – some of my former Halcrow colleagues might well have inserted “tunnelling and tunnels”, I guess – and you can soon identify people, journalists and publications (New Civil Engineer, for example, Tweets very regularly), firms and organisations who share similar interests and might be worth getting to know.

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