One of the disadvantages of growing your Twitter following is that your Twitter stream may become a bit unwieldy. Because I follow more than 16 thousand people, mine moves by at a pace almost too fast for me to scan, depending on the time of day.

In fact, I do not spend much time at all reading my general stream of tweets. Instead, I focus my attention on mentions (anyone who is talking to me or about me and my clients), on searches, and on my lists, which I have been carefully adding to over time. (Do you use Twitter lists? If not, I highly recommend that you begin. I find that lists of fewer than 50 followers are most helpful.)

However, focusing my attention so acutely has one major drawback — it eliminates the possibilities that come from being connected to such a large group of people: possibilities for learning, for connection, for growth, and for collaboration. 

I strongly believe in the serendipity of Twitter, and so, I have, in the past, believed that the right people will see and respond to my tweets; I have relied on passive serendipity, meaning, I have been waiting for people to read my tweets, find me, and initiate connection or conversation.

Just this morning, I decided to try something new. I re-added my timeline of tweets to Tweetdeck and I spent several minutes scanning and reading the general stream.

Within a few minutes, I found several interesting opportunities for learning. I found @GoodBookIdeas, and read about a tool they use called Shelfari, which may be very useful for my team in promoting books.

I saw a tweet from Victoria Mavis. She is the real life friend of another online friend; she recently published a book on networking and I hadn’t seen it or connected with her in quite some time, despite the fact that we are also Facebook friends. This is an especially interesting find because my friend and client Deb Mills-Scofield is working on a book related to networking.

Another discovery: while scanning your stream on Tweetdeck, if you see something interesting, scroll down. It will freeze the stream of tweets and allow you to read and digest what you see.

Today’s Tip: Embrace Serendipity

Set aside several blocks of time each week to embrace the serendipity of Twitter. Set your timer for 12 minutes and scan your general stream of tweets. Look for opportunities to learn, to connect, and to collaborate with others. Freeze your stream to really focus on one or two serendipitous finds, and choose one or more  of the following options:

1 – Research more about the topic or person that caught your attention.

2- Engage with the content or person; retweet, reply, or continue the conversation.

3 – Consider how you can take the relationship or content even farther. Add the person to a list, so you can give them sustained attention. What opportunities could you find to support and encourage this person? How could you share this content that you learned with others?

Tell me something! What people (or ideas) have you discovered through the serendipity of Twitter? How do you find opportunities on Twitter?