Then one day I received an email explaining that I had been mentioned by SQL_Joker on Twitter and could I make some time for a phone conversation to talk about a potential business opportunity? Well, that email got my curiosity piqued about this Twitter business, so I set up an account so that I could see for myself what the fuss was all about, and the rest – as they say – is history!
- Get help with a problem. Whether you’re independent like me, working in a small shop, or out of resources in a big organization, there are people out there who might be able to help. Sometimes weird things happen and you need a fresh perspective for troubleshooting. Or you’ve been asked to start working with a different aspect of SQL Server and need a nudge in the right direction. With SQL Server professionals around the globe, someone out there is probably able to help. Don’t worry if no one knows who you are and isn’t following you – that will come with time. All you need to do is compose a tweet and add a hashtag at the end of your request – like #sqlhelp, #ssashelp, #ssishelp, or #ssrshelp. If you need more that 140 characters, then break your tweet into 2 parts and add 1/2 and 2/2 to each part. Before you tweet, you can use the search feature in Twitter to see tweets using these hashtags and learn what kinds of questions get answered. Obviously, it’s not the best way to get help for complex problems.
- Learn new things. Technology keeps changing and it can be challenging to stay current. As you learn who’s who in the SQL Server community, you can follow them to get breaking news, or thoughts about trends, or resources of interest. Don’t know who to follow? Start by watching who answers questions for the #sqlhelp and other hashtags, click the name, and click the Follow button. If you like what they tweet, do nothing but continue to watch the tweets. If you don’t like what they tweet, you can always Unfollow later. If you explore Twitter more deeply, you can also see who a person follows and who follows them. You might see some names you recognize as conference speakers, bloggers, and authors of magazine articles and books. Cast a wide net.
- Develop friendships with people who share common interests. Those of us in the SQL Server community have SQL Server in common. Often, the way we met one another was at conferences and that’s the only time we interacted from year to year. But with Twitter, we can continue the conversation. And with more conversation, the more we get to know one another and the friendships develop. And for those who can’t get to a conference, they can participate vicariously as many of us tweet interesting things that we hear and see. I’ve had Twitter exchanges with many people long before I met them, and some whom I’ve never met. So don’t feel like you have to know someone personally before you engage. Just be polite and friendly. Ask questions or offer up something you’ve learned. Before long, if you play nicely, you’ll be amazed at how you’ve been assimilated into the family.
- Have a laugh. We work hard and take our jobs seriously. Well, most of us do! But, seriously, we need a break from time to time, even if just for a few minutes. Every now and then, someone will come up with a topic and people begin to riff on that. You’ll see things like movies or books with names adapted to something meaningful and humorous only to those in the SQL Server community. You’ll just have to keep your eyes peeled to see what I mean.
- Work the network. As you get to know people on Twitter, you’ll find that you can get help in other ways besides the technical stuff. Maybe you need to find a job, or maybe you know of a job opening at your company. Twitter is a great way to share the need and someone might be able to help. I’ve heard lots of great stories of people getting connected in this way. Of course, having relationships built first is important. But this network of ours is not just about jobs. If you’re traveling some place new, or thinking about buying some new gadget, or need inspiration for a new way to fix something for dinner, someone in the community has an opinion that you might find useful.