This isn’t a new question (or a new answer, for that matter), but Misty Belardo (@mistygirl on Twitter) underscores her affirmation with five pointers for how to stack the odds in your favor.
Twitter is a great social networking platform. It lets you communicate with people from all over the world 24/7 real time. We are always told that you cannot have real friends online and that it is impossible to have meaningful friendships with your Twitter friends. I would like to disagree. I believe that you can have real friends. There are a lot of people that I have become close with that I met on Twitter. They are a source of encouragement and a true source of joy. You may think I am nuts… It is really not hard finding wonderful people on Twitter, you just need to know how to be open to friendships as well.
- Don’t follow just for numbers – Twitter is your chance to really get to know real people. The numbers may be worthless if you cannot connect and inspire others.
- They are not mere avatars – They are human beings that live and breath. Twitter is full of real people that you can communicate and share with 140 characters at a time.
- Be Yourself – Don’t be pretentious. People will recognize that you are being that way. Just be who you are in real life. If they see that you are genuine, people will warm up to you.
- Don’t be afraid to say hello – Just like in real life, friendships begin with a HELLO, so don’t be afraid to speak out. It does not matter how many followers that person has, they will reply to you if they see that you are friendly, share wonderful info and are open to communicating.
- Introduce others you know – I know the coolest people and the most engaging ones because I was introduced to them by other people. I also, in turn, introduce the people I know. Giving is always much more fun, don’t you think?
I’ve frankly been a little surprised at the sort of friendships which can develop out of Twitter. I was a reluctant latecomer to the Twitterfest (“Tweet, Tweet, Tweet”), and I initially considered Twitter to be little more than a playful, less personal alternative to Facebook. The 140 character limit was a fun challenge, and the communications were quirkier (and often more clever) than the updates on other social networks. And the open, searchable sea of tweets was intriguing. I began to find myself “polling” twitter to find the pulse on topics that I normally would have used Google news for. Raw, unfiltered, real time information. Real people. Real social web! Sort of an open source social network. I got hooked.
I enjoyed posting more and more. And I enjoyed following other interesting posters more and more. I honed down the niches which really compelled me (ie: @virtualDavis) and began “stumbling” upon fascinating individuals all around the world who shared (or despised) the ideas, activities, ambitions, curiosities, etc. which tug my attention. Often bizarre, sometimes inspiring and ocassionally critical dialogue (trialogue, quintialogue,…) evolved. And in several cases, these virtual conversations — 140 character ping pong matches — have germinated into friendships. Real friends. So, are Twitter friends real friends? They can be. But just like the non-Twitter realm, friendship is rare, special and takes some effort. Twitter just ramps up the diversity and geography of your potential friends. What are you waiting for?