What is Twitter? I've found that it's hard to teach an old dog new tricks sometimes. There have been several occasions where I've been sitting in a board room with older businessmen staring at me wanting the answer to this question. Most people have associated Twitter with nothing more than an online statement about what one had for breakfast that morning.

It's so much more than that. BUT - it's not a complicated concept.

Twitter's Business Value

So you want to learn how to leverage Twitter for business? You could have been a business person for years and years and know everybody but when you set out for your 140 characters of glory...you hit a wall. What now? What's the point? Why should I care?

Millions and millions of people are joining the Twitter conversation. It's a matter of finding what you are passionate about and start talking about it. Also, utilizing the Twitter search option to find other Twitter users out there who are talking about the same things  and jump in on their conversations.

It's not rude to interrupt in Twitter. It's encouraged.

What's the point of Twitter? Let's take another look at it. Years and years have been spent by business people going out to cocktail parties and social functions. These are also known in the vernacular as networking events. Why do people go to these? In order to shake hands with the right person, engage in conversation with people and ultimately build trust. You don't build trust by walking up to a complete stranger at a party and pushing your agenda or sales pitch. It's a quick way to get tuned out. Instead you small talk about other non-business things in life and ultimately sharing your expertise in certain business matters as they come up in conversation.

Twitter works much in the same way. If you know how to carry on a conversation at a networking event, you can do the same online. It's just digital and limited in space. Don't worry, you're allowed to talk less.

Less is more. You want to talk more online, start a blog.

So many people see the value in networking functions, cocktail parties, and the like but see no value in Twitter. This perplexes me. Every day our business world has shifted from brick and mortar spaces to digital spaces, so why wouldn't the conversations shift the same way?

If Twitter is just looked at like a giant cocktail party, it will be a lot easier to wrap one's head around. As long as your genuinely engaging in conversation and not spending the whole time talking about yourself or pushing your own agenda, it's quite easy to get the hang of. It's a matter of building trust and showing off some of your expertise in the process. People do business with those they know and trust and Twitter is a great way to get to know and trust more people.

Twitter isn't a real-time, cheap advertising medium. It's a conversation.

It's the world's largest cocktail party. And you're invited.