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Weed out requests with a ‘twitpitch’

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in Workplace Communication

An essayist and technology guru, Stowe Boyd was planning to attend a conference of entrepreneurs in 2008 when he had an idea. He knew that many of the attendees would try to get him to invest in their fledgling businesses, and he didn’t want to face lots of people jockeying for his time. So he sought to harness social media to streamline the process.

Boyd decided to book meetings with entrepreneurs before the conference. How? He required them to use Twitter to pitch their reason for wanting to see him.

This forced attendees to reduce their message to 140 characters that would spark Boyd’s interest. It also enabled Boyd to maximize his time at the conference by identifying in advance the most intriguing subjects to meet.

Boyd’s idea, which commentators called a “twitpitch,” has spread. Executives now ask people who want something from them—from job candidates to vendors and suppliers seeking business—to summarize their pitch in the form of a tweet.

At University of Iowa’s Tippie College of Business, admissions officers began asking applicants in 2011 to use Twitter to answer the question, “What makes you an exceptional M.B.A. candidate?” The school selects one winner per year who not only gets accepted to the program but also receives a scholarship.

There are many ways you can apply this technique. Stage Twitter contests for prospects and customers to win products or services from your organization. Hire ­consultants or weed out requests from employees by inviting them to use Twitter to convince you.

Sifting through tweets will help you save time and connect with clever, creative individuals.

While judging people solely through their tweets may limit your perspective, using Twitter as a screening mechanism can work well. Harnessing this resource, you can pinpoint the most promising candidates to pursue.

— Adapted from To Sell Is Human, Daniel Pink, Riverhead Books.

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