I hit something of a milestone yesterday. Yes, yes, I know it’s got nothing to do with numbers, but this one, for me, has caused me to pause and reflect.

Yesterday, after 5 1/2 years on Twitter, I tweeted my 70,000th tweet.

My friend Justin Levy did me the great favour of telling me, “If you averaged 120 characters per tweet, that’s 1.4 million characters you’ve posted into Twitter.” No wonder my fingers are sore!

I often speak with people who are skeptical about Twitter. They don’t understand the point of sharing things in 140 characters or less. They don’t see the benefit in trying to follow along with what hundreds, or even thousands of people have to say. They don’t understand what all the @’s and #’s and RTs mean, it’s like another language to them.

I totally understand the skepticism. To the uninitiated, Twitter can be a confusing and strange place. It’s a form of communication that, until about 6 years ago, was quite foreign to us. Now it’s in the mainstream. I challenge you to go 15 minutes watching TV these days without seeing a Twitter reference in a commercial, news story or show. Hundreds of millions of people are using this tool every single day to communicate, connect, and share the things that matter to them.

I got in the game early on (and by early, I mean before @replies were hyperlinks, and even before hashtags existed!) and even though at the time, I was only chatting with a handful of people (thanks for putting up with me @jasonfalls, @cc_chapman, @garyvee, @chrisbrogan and @marcapitman!), I was able to make some lifelong friends, valuable connections and learn more than I could have ever imagined.

70,000 tweets, and here’s what it’s gotten me in 5.5 years:

  • More than two dozen clients
  • Amazing, life changing friendships with people like @jnswanson, @TheStacey, and @jennifer_jj
  • Semi-regular speaking gigs with national organizations
  • Life-altering business partnership opportunities
  • Wonderful connections and friendships with people I would never have had the opportunity to meet otherwise
  • A really great podcasting gig with a person I’ve never actually met in person
  • Dozens of media appearances on TV, radio and in the newspaper
  • Hours of laughter and entertainment that is a million times better than any dumb reality TV show
  • The opportunity to work with the incredible @dannybrown to raise over $100,000 for charity (almost entirely through Twitter, I might add)
  • The opportunity to organize the first TEDx Ottawa event with the lovely @isfan
  • Invitations to attend phenomenal conferences
  • Plenty of company for watching awards shows, The Big Bang Theory, and The Walking Dead
  • Peter Mansbridge talked to me!
  • I’ve improved readership of this blog
  • I haven’t felt lonely, not once, in 5.5 years
  • I’ve had the privilege generous help from all sorts of “strangers” – getting me through technical hiccups, giving advice about anything from cars to computers to dog training
  • I’ve been able to reciprocate by helping all sorts of of people

I know there’s more. Much more. But if you’re one of the skeptics, know that this list is no word of a lie or embellishment. I would say that, of all the tools I use and have used online, Twitter is the one that has almost single-handedly provided me the most benefit. I think longevity is one of the secrets to Twitter, for sure. The more time you have invested, the bigger the payoff will be – and I’m considered an “oldtimer” on the platform. But that’s not to say that if you’re newer to Twitter, you can’t get similar results. What does it take? Pretty simple, when you break it down.

Take the Time. You have to go every day. I maybe have skipped one or two days of posting to Twitter in 5.5 years. Some days I post only once or twice because I only have a few minutes to spare. Some days I have more time to invest, so I post dozens of times (mostly in replies to others). You need to consistently check in, say hello, and be present in the community to see any results.

Participate. The tendency for most people is to “lurk and listen” on Twitter. Sure, you might learn a lot about what’s going on, but nobody will know who you are. I have people come up to me at events and say “Hey, I follow you on Twitter, I love reading your tweets.”, and I’ve never heard of them. I’ve never heard FROM them. They tell me, “Oh, I just like to watch on Twitter”. If you don’t participate in the conversation you only get about a third of the real the benefit of the network. So jump in, and don’t be shy. People on Twitter are open, generous and inclusive, and once you start talking to them, that will become abundantly clear – and your experience on Twitter will change forever.

70,000 tweets, and I’m showing no signs of slowing down or stopping. So to you, thanks for listening, and thanks for chatting with me. Know that you’ve enriched my life beyond words. Here’s to 70,000 more!