One great reason to jump in is to find information about the markets, businesses, technologies and ideas that
matter to you. Services like LinkedIn,
Twitter and Google+ provide massive,
open and free repositories of information shared between people looking to solve each other's problems. The
executives we talked to mine social sites for links, commentary and connections that facilitate conversations --
all in real time as research is released and market trends take shape.
- Join LinkedIn groups and Twitter threads that interest you.
- Follow or connect with those who reflect your interests.
- Track prominent voices in these online forums and consider networking with them.
"I use Twitter not just as a source of communication, but as a source of information. It's a walking
encyclopedia," says Gina Tomlinson, CTO for the City and County of San Francisco. According to Tomlinson, that kind
of information is power -- and it comes from people.
"My advice would be to follow first and let it organically grow," says Mike Rodger, director of digital
innovation for Delta Hotels and Resorts. "Sign up, start tracking [topics] and following people. Find other
like-minded individuals. The beauty of these social media channels is that you can see who those people are
following" and follow them in turn to grow your network.
Rodger does just that to keep abreast of developments in the hospitality and IT sectors, while tracking
consumers' responses to Delta's latest projects. Even if you're not putting your personal thoughts out in the
ether, you can leverage social media to learn the thoughts of others who are. And once you do that, you might just
want to start making your own waves.
When you're an individual IT pro developing a social media presence, authenticity and personality matter.
Promoting and protecting your brand and company are big concerns, but ones that are best left to your marketing and
PR teams. More important, our experts say, is to share your technology passions, problems and expertise. Far from a
liability, this sort of transparency can be an asset.
"It does not show weakness. It does not show vulnerability. It shows that you have an openness and a willingness
to learn, share and network," says Tomlinson. "Giving yourself that level of transparency, it actually strengthens