I've got the luxury right now to voraciously learn. Normally I spend a fair amount of time soaking in new things, but taking advantage of down time can give you the opportunity to try out new things, learn new skills and possibly open doors to new opportunities.
This week has been Twitter week for me. I've immersed myself into the Twitter nation and found some surprising things:
You can waste a lot of time with Twitter if you want to. There are an incredible amount of people out there not accomplishing anything with the time they spend. "I had chicken for lunch" is not something of value. "I had the most incredible fish at The Acoma in Butte, MT" is something of value (if you're ever in Butte.)
You can gain a lot of value if you want to. It depends on how you learn. If you are a viral learner - one idea leads to another, to another, to another - Twitter is probably the place for you. With the vast amount of information flowing, it's like watching a brain work. For me, doing some research on new business, the amazing quantity of data that flows every second on Twitter could be overwhelming, but with a few tools you can master it.
#hashtags - I posted about this earlier, but this does allow people to focus in on being a part of or collecting information and finding people who are interested in the same things.
Twollo - automatically "follows" people of like interests. Twollo makes it a bit more manageable and less time consuming to find people you want to interact with. It's certainly not foolproof, but can save you some time if you're interested in trying Twitter out. Caveat here: Don't just follow - interact. Look at the people Twollow signs up and interact with them - thank them if they follow back and actually look at their profiles. Unless you're an egomaniac and think everyone is just holding their breath waiting for your next tweet (or you actually are one of those people everyone does want the next tweet from like @guykawasaki ) which most of us aren't, it's best if you stop Twollo at intervals that let you look at the people you are following and adjust. Currently I have 900 I'm following and plan to stop Twollo at 1000 and take a look at who I'm following before I start it up again.
Digsby- This is a desktop client that will bring you updates from various social networks. You download Digsby and give it your user names and passwords for Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. and it will give you pop-ups of the updates on each. The settings are pretty flexible so it doesn't become intrusive.
If you google "twitter tools" you'll find millions more, but after a week of twittering, these three tools have been the ones to help me understand and follow the right people. (and actually make some new friends!) There are also a lot more extensive guides to Twitter, but you know me, I always try to keep it simple!
P.S. You can find me on Twitter here.