Making the Introduction or Closing the Deal: How Do You Use Twitter?

by Shannon Paul on March 8, 2010

Feet up on desk in front of computer monitorsSomeone recently invited me to participate in a social media conference in a DM (direct message) on Twitter. I said I would be interested, but would need to get approval from my employer and provided my email address in hopes I might use details provided to vet the opportunity.

I never did receive an email, but I did receive a subsequent DM asking if I knew others who might be interested in participating as a panelist. I provided three different contacts that were deemed suitable for the event’s objectives.

I still never received an email, and to be fair, I never nudged for follow-up. I figured it was up to the other person to send details of the event — especially since I made email introductions for the other potential panelists, and it was never even communicated to me what the subject of the panel was to be about! I was later added to the event’s website with only (yet another) DM only after my information was already posted.

When I replied that I had not yet had this appearance approved the person seemed to be a bit offended and retorted that I should take it upon myself to find a replacement… Excuse me? I already provided three additional speakers. While this person quickly apologized and asked if an email would help my decision process with respect to the event. I said yes, but still haven’t received the email almost a week later.

In my experience, invitations to speak — even on Twitter, have always been directly followed up with event details in an email. I don’t think this is asking too much.

Maybe I’m being ridiculously old-fashioned, but I don’t see Twitter as an effective means of closing a deal. If you pitch me an idea on Twitter and I bite, I’m glad to take the discussion offline. But, my openness to a pitch doesn’t mean we’re all set. And, while I do feel fortunate to be asked to participate in these types of events, I need to make sure the subject matter and audience metrics are relevant to my employer.

Twitter is GREAT for introductions

Don’t get me wrong, I rely on Twitter for a lot of my interactions — social and professional. Twitter is great for getting a quick read or pulse check and gauging potential interest in something, but I can’t help thinking that an over-reliance on such an abbreviated means of communication might just make us seem lazy and unprofessional.

Am I overreacting, or is there a limit to how much we can really get done from a direct message on Twitter? Isn’t it essential to take the conversation to email or offline if we really want to get a firm commitment and close the deal?

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Photo credit: Coal Miki

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

March 8, 2010 Daria Steigman 1

Hi Shannon,

No, you’re not wrong; rather, you’re dealing with someone who seems to be extraordinarily lazy. (Not to mention rude.)

Unless you’re DMing a good friend (where there’s a built-in shorthand for conversation), then it’s not appropriate to try to close the deal in 140 characters or less. Plus it would take a lot less energy to send one e-mail with a little detail than all the back-and-forth that goes with trying to avoid actually providing adequate information.

The bottom line is that people need to reach out to us the way we want to be reached out to. It’s not so much about right and wrong, but connecting appropriately with your audience. You tried to tell him but he didn’t listen. His bad.


March 8, 2010 Jon Sterling 2

Old fashioned? Nah. It just sounds like you understand communication a little bit better than the DMer.

All of my ONLINE interactions are designed to drive OFFLINE conversations. While I think I’m charming and witty online, nobody has ever decided to engage me in a business transaction from my online behavior. Only after we meet in-person do we decide if we’re a good fit for each other.

Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. are great for making introductions and finding mutual connections. Relationships are built with conversations that take more than 140 characters at a time.


March 8, 2010 Nikki Stephan 3

Hi Shannon,

You aren’t the slightest bit out of line to expect an invite to speak at a conference to be followed up with more details in an e-mail or offline. That’s just common courtesy, especially when you provided your e-mail to get more details!

Twitter can be an effective communications platform…but not in all situations. People shouldn’t get so accustomed to abbreviated dialogue that they assume it’s appropriate for all types of interactions.


March 8, 2010 Elizabeth Sosnow 4

Hi Shannon:

This should fall under the “of course” category. It’s frustrating that we still need to teach people the basics of business etiquette. But, we do.

No tool can replace the need for that person to have the right mentor to teach and help them learn how to become a thoughtful professional.

I worry that this fast-paced business environment is producing folks who are ill-prepared. It feels a bit like accidents are waiting to happen.

Bottom line, it’s important to know what you don’t know. And, if you’re a leader, it’s really important to take the time to teach.


March 8, 2010 jamiefavreau 5

I totally agree. You can make contact but everyone knows that 140 characters is NEVER enough to seal anything. You might start the conversation but if you are involved in a panel or something you should at least get an email and a phone conversation so everything is crystal clear.

Introductions are fine but until you move it off of Twitter that is where the true value comes from. You really can’t help people with 140 characters no matter how many times you correspond back and forth.

Things get lost in translation a lot of times even with email. You need to be clear and concise and know what your goals are.


March 9, 2010 Torbjörn Ungvall 6

You are absolutely right! Twitter is a conversation channel and a good one too. But when closing a deal it’s better to have a more businesslike approach like email, hopefully included with a proper signature, or business card. It’s safer and more professional, and it’s definitely easier to get an approval from employer than “Hey, I’ve got a DM about a panel – can I have a go?”. To DM someone a business proposal could be ok – but only if you knew the person/ business/ event…


March 9, 2010 Gerard McLean 7

Does this person not know that you are the incomparable Shannon Paul? :-)

You’re not overreacting. Adding you to the Web site without you confirming was presumptuous and unprofessional. Not following up in a reasonable time with an email was just plain sloppy and stupid. Not following up with an actual conversation is just plain lunacy. If you are SPEAKING at an event, knowing how you sound while SPEAKING is a minimum requirement. (even though you are the incomparable Shannon Paul :-) )

I worry that small, but important things are being lost; like knowing when a phone call is more appropriate than a tweet or text, or when a hand-written “thank you note” is more treasured than an email.

I heard Tim Gunn on Joy Behar the other night and he said something that will probably stick forever (paraphrasing) “It is important to navigate the world with respect and responsibility.” R&R is ultimately all we want as human beings, online or off. This person gave you no respect and took on no responsibility.


March 9, 2010 Alexis 8

I’m in agreement with the others who commented — I think they were a little out of line taking your “let me run this by my boss” as “I’m so committed that you can put me on your website.” It’s a little gauche.

Why do they keep offering to send you emails if they can’t make good on it? I think that makes them look pretty bad from a professional standpoint. I get that people are busy, but does it really take that long to open the lines of email communication with a brief email thanking you for your interest and providing details for the engagement (or even saying those details will be coming in another email)?



March 9, 2010 Kim Schneider 9

No, you’re absolutely right. This person should have followed up with an email of all the details you’d need to know. 140 characters does not seal any deal.

If someone is asking you to speak on a panel, he/she should go out of their way to make you feel confident about the discussion and any details you need to know. Obviously, this person is just unprofessional. If the person can’t take 5 minutes to send you a confirmation email (and a thanks!) what makes him/her think you should be comfortable speaking on a panel after getting no details?


March 10, 2010 Jose Huitron 10

Great post! I find that twitter leads to introductions but oftentimes people will ask you something and then won’t take the time to respond and acknowledge your response. Sometimes you wonder if these individuals are serious or just enjoying the glamor of the moment.


March 14, 2010 Ari Herzog 11

Everyone uses Twitter differently, so none of the above comments are correct and none are wrong. ;)

My take is based on how I use it: I follow very few by stream and very many by list. So, because I need to follow someone for that person to direct message me and because I think it’s silly to follow a person solely because that person wants to dm me, I’d rather tweet out my email address and request a message that way.


October 17, 2010 Josh Binder 12

If any of my staff attempted to close any deal without engaging with our clients verbally I would rip them a new…..

I love twitter for what it is and not what new ages social media experts want it to be… another mass marketing platform. Sometime I long for the good old fashioned days where we picked up the telephone to talk to people……..


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