(While I am focused on Twitter in this post, you can easily adapt this to blog subscriptions or other social networking activities)
You might wonder how I can list just seven people to follow on Twitter. I can’t — I lied in the headline to draw you in. Sorry (not really). Instead, I’m going to suggest seven types of people you should follow on Twitter, and explain what I mean.
You should follow people who are:
- What you are: think about the roles you play in life (manager, writer, father, husband, hiker, EMC employee, etc.) and follow people who also play those roles. They will talk about things you find interesting, and pass along links which you probably want to read. You’ll build a network of people who are in similar places as you in life, and that’s very valuable.
- Who you want to be: what are your dreams and goals? Follow people who are achieving them. They will help you understand the reality of their lives, and help you perhaps achieve those goals.
- Who you used to be: why live in the past? To participate! When someone follows point # 2 above and follows you, follow them back. Maybe they want your advice, maybe they don’t, but you’ve figured out something and they want to learn from it, so why not share?
- Educating you: there are a few people out there with thousands upon thousands of followers. You don’t follow them to make friends with them, you follow them to learn from them. They serve to aggregate and distribute information. Find the ones who talk about the things you are interested in, and keep an eye on them.
- Making you laugh: let’s face it, everyone needs a chuckle now and then. So find someone who pretends he’s Darth Vader, or God, or whatever makes you laugh, and follow. The worst that happens is you get tired of their shtick and remove them.
- Inspiring you: whether it’s a marathon runner, a champion cyclist, or a highly successful author, someone who would probably inspire you is on Twitter right now. You might not learn anything from them in a given day but seeing them in this new medium hour to hour will be a constant reminder of what it is about them you find inspiring. And who knows, maybe someday you’ll actually make a connection.
- Outside your world: there’s so little cost in following someone on Twitter that it would be a shame to limit your network unnecessarily. Find some people who are experiencing a life you have very little background with, and follow them. Get a glimpse into the life of someone in a country you’ve never visited, an industry you’ve never worked in, a hobby you’ve never tried. Keep your horizons a little broadened.
Oh, and it goes without saying that you should follow your co-workers and boss, if that’s applicable :). Does your employer have a corporate Twitter identity? Do your competitors? Maybe this should have been a list of ten … who else did I miss?