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Twitter -ing Toward a New Job August 22, 2009

Filed under: Ideas,Learnings,Resources,Uncategorized — Carla Bobka @ 3:12 pm
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Some of my friends are just beginning to tweet; others are not sure of the value of Twitter. With so many unemployeds out there, I wanted to capture and share a way to use Twitter to learn about a new company and industry. Strategic Twittering. It’s a free resource, much appreciated by those are on a limited budget. Take advantage and expand your horizons.

One of the great things about Twitter is that you don’t have to tweet for it to be helpful to you. Twitter allows you to listen to conversations or snippets of conversation without tweeting back. Essentially you’re eavesdrop without guilt. That concept is a silent rule of Twitter: unless a user has protected their tweets anyone can look at them. Listen and learn with abandon. (Protected means only letting Twitter “friends” read their conversations.)

Here’s an example from my own experience.
Over the last few months I’ve been pursuing a position with a company called PBM. The role is within their fulfillment business, which I know very well. However, it is not the biggest segment of their business. Printing is; and that is greek to me.

One of the goals of the position is to set the stage for winning the print business for a particular fulfillment customer when the RFP for print goes out. Strategically, winning the print contract is the biggest part of being successful in the job.

I need to learn the print business. Both to win the job, AND once I have the job, to show the customer why PBM would be a good printer choice in the future, because I have a vision of the future of print.

This is where Twitter came in handy. As a Twitter user (@carlotta65) I searched for tweets mentioning “PBM” and “CGX“. CGX is the stock ticker for the parent company Consolidated Graphics.

There was 1 hit on PBM, someone looking for a good printer in Raleigh NC. That gave me confidence that at least one other person valued the company’s reputation.

CGX had several hits. One was another CGX company twitter handle, @WentworthPrints, who is also a print company. So I started following them.

Another tweeter who mentioned CGX is a retired printer in Brooklyn, (@ToughLoveforX). He has LOTS to say about printing. Much of it still greek, and much of it about the direction print is moving and COULD move in the future.

This is pretty interesting. Listening to him and asking him questions about the greek stuff, helps me build a much deeper list of questions during my interview process. And makes the interviewers curious about how I am learning so much about a new industry.

Monday I searched CGX again, and found a woman who is one of their sales people. Her Twitter profile linked to her blog.  The blog had several posts discussing the CGX annual sales meeting and her enthusiasm for the event, what she gained by attending and how she is treated as an employee.  Valuable insight into the larger culture  of the parent company.

I learned a lot about the client, too.  Not just the part of the organization I would have direct contact with, but the larger body of who they are and some of the chatter about them from staff, vendors and analysts. Together the tweets formed a more richly textured sense of the company than I could get from corporate sites.

It is really hard to learn possible industry directions and strategies when you are outside an industry. And it is tough to get an inside view of an organization.
Twitter gives you the ability to find strangers who might be able to help.