by Elizabeth Harrin (London)
Do you tweet? Twitter is a micro-blogging tool that allows you to ‘tweet’ anything – as long as it fits within 140 characters, which is the length of a standard text message. That is what has made it so popular, as you can send and receive messages by phone, or if you prefer via instant messaging or a website. People use it to update their friends with how they are and what they are doing. On the receiving end, you can choose people to receive updates from – your family, celebrities or interesting commentators.
Curious? Once you have a Twitter account you can both update your own status and receive updates from other people whom you have chosen to ‘follow’. Yes, Twitter comes with a whole new language. Since logging on for the first time recently I have learnt about following, tweeting and retweeting, hashtags, @ responses, direct messages. There isn’t space here to explain how to use Twitter to its full advantage, but there are plenty of websites dedicated to just that.
There is a lot of noise on Twitter. People send updates about their last cup of coffee, and British comedian and presenter Stephen Fry made headlines recently when he tweeted about being stuck in a lift. The information comes to you in real time format, but that doesn’t make it interesting. So how do you know who to follow? The best advice is to choose people who interest you and whom you have come across from another source. Bloggers, for example, may blog once or twice a week (like me) but tweet on a daily basis. Using Twitter you will get instant notification of new blog posts but also useful, short titbits more regularly: things that aren’t shared on the blog. I have wasted many an evening reading the profiles of the people being followed by someone I am following. If you follow my meaning.
Even so, there are millions of users on Twitter – no one seems to know exactly how many – so it can be time consuming to sift through profiles in the hope of finding someone noteworthy to follow. Don’t worry: The Glass Hammer has done it for you. Here is our guide to the top women to follow on Twitter.
Padmasree Warrior: CTO of Cisco. Warrior’s use of Twitter is a good example of how you can use the tool to promote your business, but she also shares interesting links and talks about workplace collaboration. There’s a good mix of the personal and professional to give you a real sense of what she feels is important.
Marti Barletta: President and CEO of the TrendSight Group. Barletta has a lot of C-level experience. Her consultancy firm specialises in helping companies recognise and communicate with women through marketing, sales, recruiting and retention effectiveness. She tweets about research and women in the workplace and her comments are always insightful.
Hillary Clinton: This is the official news feed (although it’s an unofficial Twitter site) of the US Secretary of State and former First Lady. Interesting if you want an insight into how foreign policy ends up shaping the business world.
If you’re not keen on news from Mrs Clinton you could follow Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House of Representatives instead. Or find your own Congress representative on TweetCongress. UK politicians have been slow to take up Twitter. Harriet Harman, Leader of the House and Minister for Women and Equality has recently joined, although there isn’t much of note on her profile yet.
Sarah Blow: Founder of Girl Geek Dinners, which was created in London after Blow attended a networking event for IT professionals at which she was one of about 10 women in a group of 150, and was assumed to be someone’s girlfriend. Girl Geek Dinners are now held all over the world and you can get the latest news about women in IT and the dinners from Blow.
Gina Madsen: a Las Vegas-based lawyer, combines tweeting about legal topics with a love of Italian cookery.
Jessica Faye Carter: Previously a corporate lawyer on Wall Street, Carter is now CEO of Nĕtte Media. She is a member of the New York Bar and an expert on cultural and gender diversity, so she frequently tweets about legal and diversity issues.
And of course, you can follow The Glass Hammer, to get all the breaking news of updates to this site.
These are a few of our favorite women to follow, but in the grand scheme of things there are very few senior women Twittering on business, finance and the law. The tool is reaching what the technical commentators critical mass, and there is very much the expectation that soon organisations who want to capitalise on being cutting-edge will need a Twitter presence, just as 10 years ago they needed a website and in the last few years they have set up corporate blogs. With any luck that means that the women at the top of these organisations will soon start tweeting, which in turn means more insights for us about how to get their ourselves.
Follow the author on Twitter at @pm4girls.