CIO Symmetry

Mar 24 2011   6:47PM GMT

Does your executive networking strategy include Twitter?

Wendy Schuchart Wendy Schuchart Profile: Wendy Schuchart

This week marks Twitter’s fifth birthday. It’s a precocious 5-year-old, in that it has done in half a decade what most companies need 20 years to accomplish: become an integral part of our everyday lexicon, leaving some early adopters wondering how to even practice executive networking the old-fashioned way. And some people are actively wondering “why bother?”

At the FusionCIO conference a few weeks ago, I did a quick search and saw that only three of us (the conference’s organizer, one other person and me) were tweeting using the conference hashtag, #FusionCIO. It didn’t seem possible: More than 200 tech-savvy professionals, all with a demonstrated ability to manage their personal brand to such an extent that they have climbed to the top of the information technology leadership hierarchy … and yet less than 2% were Tweeting?

SearchCIO-Midmarket.com Editorial Director Scot Petersen wondered this week if Twitter is overrated. “Opportunity cost, in business, is the next best option for where to make an investment. With Twitter, it’s the thing you’re missing out on by Tweeting another thing,” he wrote. It’s possible that our fellow attendees were focusing entirely on the moment and the speaker at hand rather than interrupting their concentration to send out a 140-character-or-less burst of text into the ether. However, when I think about Scot’s example of Twitter users fixated on their handhelds at SXSW, I’m guessing that many of the CIOs and CEOs from FusionCIO just aren’t using Twitter at all.

I caught up with Jeff Willinger, the other attendee who was actively live-Tweeting the event. He had just spent some of the break showing a handful of CIOs how to use TweetDeck, a popular third-party app that helps you manage and organize the onslaught of Tweets. They had never seen it before, which was surprising to us both. Why aren’t more CIOs on Twitter? “They’re afraid,” he said, “simple as that. They’re either afraid of getting fired or they just don’t know how to get value from it.”

CIOs are telling me that their biggest struggle is in finding ways to increase their presence and demonstrate IT’s value to the business, yet if the FusionCIO audience is any indication, CIOs are underrepresented on Twitter. Whether it’s sharing information or links or actively presenting yourself as Julie, your cruise director for your company, Twitter is an accessible, easy tool for personal and business branding.

There are a few brave souls out there. For instance, SearchCIO-Midmarket.com maintains a list of CIOs on Twitter that at press time followed almost 200 CIOs. That list is growing by the week, as more CIOs step into the ring.

Do you Tweet? Or do you feel, as some do, that no one wants to hear what you had for breakfast this morning? Let me know in the comments, or better yet, send CIOMidmarket an @reply on Twitter!

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