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Boss’s Tip of the Week #7: Texts, Twitters & The Next New Technology: How to Stay Connected (Without Losing Your Mind)

Here is the 7th installment of the Boss’s Tip of the Week.  This advice column for managers is brought to you by Bob Rosner and Allan Halcrow, co-authors of The Boss’s Survival Guide.

Star Trek is set hundreds of years in the future, but we’ve already surpassed the crew’s communication tools: Captain Kirk can’t use his communicator as a GPS or to access the computer. Yet we continue to make communication ever faster and, depending on your point of view, either easier or more complicated.
 
For those who consider email too laborious and slow we now have texting. And for those who can get the job done in 140 characters (and who love a mass audience), we have Twittering. And who knows what new tools are on the horizon. These are indeed the best of times and the worst of times, depending on how much of an early adopter you are.
 
Both forms are both reviled and adored, and like all new technology using them has pros and cons – especially in the workplace. But both are here to stay, so we encourage you to make friends (or at least peace) with them.
 
If there is one thing we’re sure of, new tools will be created in this space in the coming months. So don’t get too comfortable once you master texting and Twittering, because there will be new lessons to learn and things to accomplish. Whatever lies ahead, be sure you’re ready:
 
Allow new technology to change the way you view and do business. Business has long been comprised of research, development, marketing, sales, and support. But using the latest technology we can redefine what we do in five entirely different terms: listen, talk, energize, support and embrace — with our customers, vendors and employees, all in real time. It’s easy to see IM, text, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and so on as a pain. But you can also see it as an ongoing focus group, resource, R&D lab, and sales tool. In short, they can be a vital part of staying connected to your key constituencies.
 
Allow your people to embrace new technology. Tony Hsieh, the CEO of Zappos Shoes, not only encourages his people to Twitter, he threw down the gauntlet to all organizations. “If you don’t trust your employees to tweet freely, it’s an employee or leadership issue, not an employee Twitter policy issue,” he says.
 
Consider your purpose. If you’re stuck on the runway with no access to email, texting is a viable way to get an important message to a colleague or subordinate. But it isn’t a good replacement for email for most communication. It’s too abbreviated, too informal and too temporary (or perceived as temporary – more on that later) to be effective. Similarly, you don’t want to Twitter your approval of an employee’s vacation request but it’s a great medium for recruiting or marketing.
 
Don’t count on privacy. Twittering is intended for a large audience, so it doesn’t even make sense to expect Twitters to be private. They can “re-tweeted” endlessly. Texts are less private than email, too, because they don’t go through an email account and can be seen by anyone who picks up a phone or PDA and looks at it.
 
Real Life Examples
 
• On Twitter, a message can easily be re-tweeted and instantly seen by thousands of people — as one marketing firm executive discovered after posting a job on Twitter. “Within 15 hours, this tweet went from a few thousand to 15,000 people,” he said. Twitter may be a great tool for spreading the word about a job, but it can be “unwieldy” for applicants, says BusinessWeek’s Rachael King. For example, Twitter users can sign up to follow AT&T’s jobs board at @attjobs, but the postings are about every available position at AT&T with no filter based on position or location.
 
• A lucky job applicant tweeted the following:
 
Cisco just offered me a job! Now I have to weigh the utility of a fatty paycheck against the daily commute to San Jose and hating the work.
 
This tweet caught the attention of a channel partner advocate for Cisco. He responded:
 
Who is the hiring manager? I’m sure they would love to know that you will hate the work. We here at Cisco are versed in the Web.
 
Ouch! The person who dissed the Cisco offer quickly took her Twitter account private. But Twitter search retained the record.

Boss’s Tip of the Week #7: Texts, Twitters & The Next New Technology: How to Stay Connected (Without Losing Your Mind)
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