Twitter Chats and Cocktail Parties

Probably my LEAST favorite social setting is a crowded, noisy, unstructured gathering. Such as a big cocktail party.

Speak before 1,000 people? No problem. Mill around in a crowd, flitting from person to person? I’ll do it if I must – like going to the dentist. My fondest hope in large gatherings is to find one or two like-minded souls, and a quiet corner in which to REALLY talk. The small-talk socializing to get to that point is pretty much a means to an end.

And that’s how I view Twitter chats, the on-line equivalent to cocktail parties.

In her recent e-book (The Introvert’s Guide to Success in Business and Leadership), my LeadershipChat co-host, Lisa Petrilli, describes how our friendship was deepened in just such a social setting. In fact, it was the meeting that week of two like-minded introverts that eventually led to the launch of LeadershipChat.

In the 14 months of co-leading LeadershipChats, I have come to realize that we, as participants, need to have a pretty modest expectation of the one-hour event itself. We’re dealing with the exchange of ideas in 140 characters (a real difficulty for semantics, qualifications, and complex ideas)! And, as in any cocktail party, there’s a lot of superficial chatter happening – even attempts to draw attention to oneself for the purpose of generating retweets. How human…

As for Lisa and me, our goals go way beyond the Tuesday 8-9 pm (ET) time slot. We want to create an environment where new connections are made, business (and personal) relationships are established, and ways of thinking (both old and new) are challenged and hashed out. A lot of that isn’t really going to happen, in-depth, during the hour. That’s where we’re mingling, kicking off dialogue, engaging in sidebars. The real valued outcome is the building of a community that rolls up its sleeves and collaborates during the other 167 hours of the week.

Or, as Kneale Mann often puts it toward the end of a chat, “now book a call with one or two people you’ve met here.” Right on.

Yes, I know that the sheer volume, and at times superficiality (@ZombieChatter BRILLIANT!! RT BillyBromide To lead, first you must live…) , of the tweetstream during a chat can be bothersome – just like it is in a cocktail party. But let’s keep our eye on the ball, and seek to encourage the development of a community of thinkers and doers.

To that end, I have one suggestion for LeadershipChat participants, that may further the dialogue and the learning. Just as Lisa and I write pre-chat posts giving our perspectives in the days before each chat, so I’d encourage any of you to write post-Tuesday-night posts on your blogs (or Facebook, or Google+…) that will expand on a point that is meaningful to you, or attack a deeper question, or express a disagreement with a guest host. Let’s move the dialogue to your sites, where there is more time to move into a quiet corner and really talk. Lisa and I love to comment on, and share, such LC-inspired posts.

Yes, I’m outside of my comfort zone every Tuesday from 8-9 pm. Even if it’s virtual, it’s a cocktail party. But when I consider the wonderful people I’ve had a chance to meet IRL this past year due to LeadershipChat, it’s worth the effort. Now, let’s all help the community reach its highest potential by going beyond the hour of chatter. Lead, by taking the discussion deeper!

P.S. please read Sam Fiorella’s comment below, and read the post he wrote on a very similar theme!

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Hire Steve Woodruff  if your identity and message need clarity (Brand Therapy)

Recent posts on Connection Agent:

>> Finding Your DNA

>> Life and Leadership as an Introvert

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About Steve Woodruff
Steve Woodruff is a blogger, a Connection Agent, and a consultant in the pharma/healthcare industry. He specializes in helping people and companies make mutually beneficial connections.

8 Responses to Twitter Chats and Cocktail Parties

  1. Excellent perspective my introverted friend. You are so correct that too few people look beyond the specific words in a tweet (when in a Twitter chat) to understand the intent or appreciate the nature of the conversation theme or tone. I think we’ve all become lazy. I’m not suggesting words are not important, but an understanding of the physical restrictions of a Tweet and the fast-paced, chaotic nature of a Twitter Chat must be used as filter when participating.

    You choose what you get out of a Twitter chat. You have the choice to focus on critiquing people or scanning for that “like-minded soul” you refer to or a theme you’re drawn too and taking the conversation offline to truly do the topic & relationship justice.

    With your indulgence, I’d like to contiribute my perpsective on this very issue as posted on my blog yesterday: http://www.senseiwisdom.com/Home/PostID/185/bID/3/Relax-I'm-only-a-Twitter-Chat-/

    • Sam, that is awesome! I hadn’t read your post until seeing your comment today – if there was a better match of hand and glove than these 2 posts, I don’t know what it would be!! Well said…

  2. I critique, therefore I am.

  3. Dan Perez Films says:

    I critique, therefore I am.

  4. Hi Steve. I like the analogy of the cocktail party and a twitter chat. I had not considered it before, but you are exactly correct. There is constant chatter and activity, and some good interpersonal connections to be made.

    As for your second point about writing follow up blogs after the chat, I preempted your request and wrote my thoughts on introvert leaders after the previous week’s leadershipchat – more confirmation that you have a good idea. Thanks for the thoughts and the on-line leadership!

  5. Steve, I love that you are actively suggesting some follow up posts by participants to further the conversation – not just as a summary of the chat! As you and I have often talked about, sometimes during a chat we don’t even feel like we’re in the same room…it’s like we’re at a cocktail party at a large house where each room is having a conversation about the central theme, but taking it down a different path. I love that about chats…the ability to follow the conversation in a direction that is of particular interest to you!

    If someone leaves the “party” thinking differently about a topic, and having had the opportunity to get to know a few other people a bit better, then I believe it’s been a successful investment of time. I hope others feel the same way! And I do hope we’ll see more posts that take the topics and add insights and new perspectives that may not have surfaced during the chat!

  6. Pingback: Business As Usual. The End? « Connection Agent

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