Do you have @ before your name? Because you should.

Last week I was at a simulcast of a leadership conference where over 170,000 leaders attend ever year.  With this kind of attendance you can imagine there where some well known speakers presenting.  When the speakers would begin their session on the screen would be their name, what they did professionally, and their Twitter handle.  Can you imagine giving out your phone number to 170,000 people at a conference because that's a lot like giving out your Twitter handle.

Why would it matter that a leader with a global reputation share his/her Twitter handle?  Because it's the new form of credibility in leadership, especially for leaders with a large platform, that people who follow you can connect with you.  Some will argue it's not a real connection but it's quickly becoming as real of a connection as email.  Can you imagine working in a modern environment and ignoring email?  Well Twitter is becoming as common as your email account.

So if you're ready to make the leap and begin connecting with people who are following you, here are some things to do:

1.  Find a good setup guide - I send people to Michael Hyatt's "Beginner guide to Twitter.  If you know of a very clear tutorial, written or video, please submit it in the comments!

2.  Use your name! - If you read through Michael's post you saw this advice but not enough people take it.  Using your real name as your handle makes it easier to find you when people want to connect.  The exception to the rule would be if you have a tremendously long name because then you have to think about how many characters (letters, spaces, etc) you are using up.  You become a difficult person to tweet at or retweet if your name takes up more than 10-12 characters.  Remember, Twitter only allows 140 characters per tweet.

3.  Participate - I'm perplexed by leaders who have Twitter accounts but don't use them, especially if they are following a bunch of people.  People begin to wonder if these leaders are using Twitter as a spy tool or a conversation tool. High school people refer to this as a "creeper."  Don't be a creeper.

4.  Know the tools - If you want to stay ground level add the Twitter app to your phone and check Twitter online.  If you want to raise you Twitter game check out this awesome articles by one of my favorite sites KISSmetrics, "10 Twitter Tools Used by Social Media Experts."  Participating does not mean "to be consumed by."  There are tools available to every leader that can help one do more on Twitter in far less time than one would think.

The last thing to address is fear.  Fear of new.  Fear of change.  Fear of availability.  Fear of criticism.  Fear of having to listen to reality.  These fears are not good reasons to avoid being present on Twitter.  There are new values in the workplace - availability, transparency, and connectedness.  Displaying these qualities by actually connecting with those who follow you will sustain your leadership position in the future.