Unexpected Ways Twitter Can Help Your Business

Friday, July 10, 2009

I am a big proponent of using Twitter to mix both personal (with boundaries of course) and business updates with the view that the ties that bind us together are often found in the dailiness of life.  There are some who argue that wedding professionals and small business owners should keep all Twitter posts business-related or make them solely motivating and inspirational.  If I had subscribed to that perspective I would have missed out on some great opportunities this week. Here is what happened:

When it comes to traveling to the different cities the Blogging Bootcamps are hosted in, I have a routine down. I usually get in the day before so I can get a good night's sleep and in case of any flight delays, not have to worry about running late the morning of the workshop.  This week even that plan was thrown out the window when my connecting flight in Denver wound up canceled after they had a malfunction with one of the plane's parts (and as annoying as that may be, I will also always argue that it is better to discover these things on the tarmac just before take-off than in the air!). 

All of the remaining flights to Austin were full - on every airline - and the flights out the next morning wouldn't get me into Texas until about 11:30 am.  With the workshop scheduled to begin at 9 am, this wasn't an option.  A very helpful desk attendant from United looked up flights to Austin from every city their airline flew out of and there was still nothing available.  By a stroke of serendipity, an earlier flight to Dallas had been delayed for some reason meaning I could still make that flight. The new plan she and I created on the spot was for me to fly to Dallas, rent a car and drive the three hours to Austin.  While not ideal, it was the only option I had at that point (in my mind, canceling the workshop, refunding everyone's money and being out thousands of dollars as a result was never an option - especially considering that some people were coming from out of town and out of state to attend).

So that's the long-ish version of the story.  I made a few twitter updates throughout the afternoon just talking about what was happening.  When I twittered about the new plan, I received a message from Jenna Cole, a wedding photographer in Dallas, offering to delay her departure time from Dallas in order to wait for me.  Her generosity ended up saving me a very expensive car rental (those airport rental desks really have that supply and demand thing down and last minute bookings are not cheap) and a long solo drive in unfamiliar territory (have you all ever experienced the freeway systems in Dallas? I rest my case).  It also saved her from having to make the drive alone and gave us three hours to talk shop and chat about life. 

My updates were not business-minded nor were they particularly motivating.  They were simply me sharing my experiences.  I had no idea when I tweeted the new plan that Jenna would see it or that she was even planning to make that drive.  As a result of mixing personal updates with business on Twitter, I was able to connect on a personal level with a colleague I had never met prior.  Oftentimes the best opportunities present themselves when our best laid plans go awry and when we've made yourself available to them. Social media has been described by several as an insurance policy, and in my case this week, that is exactly what it proved to be.  It saved me when I needed it, but if I hadn't been participating in a real and authentic way, that wouldn't have been possible.

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