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10-07-2017 - - 0 comments
Tweet like an entrepreneur

“Smile, make eye contact and always have a business card at the ready!” Helpful tips for the traditional networker, but of no use to the #networker. The most successful entrepreneurs are rapidly becoming the latter, as business professor Smith and colleagues (2017) have found.

They uncover the social media habits of business founders through in-depth interviews with 16 American startups. The most savvy of these firms see online fluency as a competitive advantage. Their founders leverage software that gives them full insights into the network of peers in their industry – who they are working with and learning from. They then seek to enter this community. As one of the CEOs puts it: “Online viewing tools have helped us make connections with people we didn’t know before, and connected us to people in different circles”

The e-entrepreneur also cares about his image. Everyone can see who comments on a LinkedIn request for support, meaning a founder can quickly build up a reputation for being helpful.

This is not done on a whim. Every word he posts is weighed up very carefully - as the internet remembers everything! “It is like you have a massively big gun and misfiring can be really easy” says founder Jim.

The generation of Twitter Entrepreneurs therefore seek to build digital social competency. As Jason, another interviewee, explains: “In the real world it is much easier to say something that is not as accepted by society as it is online. Online you only have so many characters to explain yourself”.

Those most adept at this skill find they have tremendous vertical reach. Sam regularly connects with industry leaders through Twitter: “Finding their email address is nearly impossible. Finding them on Facebook is an intrusion. But finding them on Twitter and engaging them in a conversation works.”

The online ninjas also rarely delete contacts. As their venture grows, they leverage dormant ties to support the ever-changing needs of their business. As Jim puts it: “I don’t see a point of deleting them. Maybe I could talk to them in the future if I ever needed it”. Because in the future, it is the net in network that counts.


Smith, C.; Brock Sith, J., Shaw, E. “Embracing digital networks: Entrepreneurs’ social capital online”. Journal of Business Venturing 32: 18-34

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