10 simple rules for Tweeting Up

10 simple rules for Tweeting Up

I don’t go to as many happy hours or Twitter meetups (“Tweetups” we call them, much to the disgust of non-Twitter users) as I’d like. Commute. Toddler. Prime-time TV fall season. The reasons are myriad.

But when I do go (or host one), I try to have a blast. Life is short. You have to enjoy this sort of thing because given the way modern science is going, we’re going to end up without 20 or 30 years at the ends of our lives where we are past the point of being surprised or pleased by anything, but still physically able to live on. We will enjoy a hard candy now and then, perhaps, but we sure won’t be drinking at bars and posing for party pics.

What surprises me is how much stress the simple act of meeting up causes for some people. Even extroverts have a tiny bit of social anxiety, but I’ve talked to people in Austin who skip meetups because they think nobody will like them, are paranoid about making fools of themselves or are simply shy.

Let me make it easy like Sunday morning (on a Thursday night) for you with these simple rules for having a good time and fitting in at a local Tweetup:

  1. Don’t stress the dress. Tweetups are generally more casual than business networking events or happy hours sponsored by big companies. T-shirts and jeans are fine, but nobody’s going to give you a hassle if you show up in your more formal work attire because you came straight from work. Dress however you like, just bear in mind the location of the Tweetup.

  2. Leave work at work. Don’t shot up with a resume in hand or expecting to round up some new clients. Some people attend Tweetups for work-related networking, but pitching and business schmoozing should be kept to a minimum.

  3. Drinking, fine. Drunken, watch out. Don’t be the person people talk about the next day who was blitzed out of their mind and was all slurry and sloppy. Be classy. Don’t get hammered.

  4. Photos and videos are usually OK. Especially if you’re familiar with people at the meetup, taking photos and shooting video is usually considered OK. Posting to Facebook or putting up a TwitPic is usually fine, too. But please respect requests if someone doesn’t like their picture and asks you to take it down. Better yet, it never hurts to let people you’re photographing know you plan to put pictures or videos online.

  5. Go @ yourself. What to put on the nametag: generally, it’s your full name, your Twitter ID (say, “@omarg”) and maybe the company you work for. Often, I see people simply put their Twitter ID and leave it at that, but if you’re handle is “@sexymama33” or “#the-dude-abides” please add your first name and save everybody the trouble of wondering whether to greet you at all. Don’t leave that funny ID off completely, though. It’s a good conversation starter.

  6. Bring treats. If you have freebies to give away from your company or cupcakes to share, bring ‘em. I saw someone walk in to a Tweetup with a tray of cupcakes and made friends for life. You don’t have to do this, but it’s a good way to break the ice and get people to come to you as soon as you walk in the door.

  7. Don’t be shy. This is the hardest part to get over for some. I’ve seen more than a few gregarious Twitter posters show up at a Tweetup, look around the room, intimidated, and leave before saying hello to a single person. Later, they post about how lame the Tweetup was. People are there to meet, mingle and socialize. But sometimes you have to be the one to say hi and introduce yourself. Don’t get scared off. If you’re having a terrible time, find the host of the Tweetup and ask them to introduce you around. They’ll be happy to do it.

  8. Watch the gossip. Live-tweeting from a meetup is common, but make sure that in the haze of drinking, laughing and gossiping, that you don’t accidentally post something that you’re going to regret in the morning. Assume private conversations are to be kept private and if you’re unsure whether it’s OK to post something you hear at the Tweetup, you should ask first. Remember that on Twitter, almost everything is taken, by its very nature, out of context.

  9. Bring business cards or something else to write on. You often meet so many people at a meetup, it’s impossible to remember the Twitter IDs of new acquaintances or what they do for a living. Have business cards, or some other form of ID to hand out and have a small pad to write stuff down on (or a digital equivalent - some people take notes and photos of people they meet on their phone). You always think you’ll remember names later and, if you’re me, you never do. Write it down.

  10. Follow up. Add people you met and liked to your Twitter stream or ask them to connect on Facebook or Linked In. Remind them that you met at the Tweetup in case they don’t remember your name or handle. And don’t forget to thank your meetup hosts (whether in person or later on by e-mail or Tweet). It’s a lot of work making sure everyone’s having a good time.

And of course, have fun!

Omar L. Gallaga has a great article over on austin360.com about attending a tweetup. You should definitely check it out!