May 9, 2017

Diversify your Twitter friends 👨🏻👧🏽👱🏿👩🏻

I often avoid politics and sensitive topics, fearful that my words might be attacked or taken out of context. I love the internet but it’s often unforgiving.

Yesterday was International Women’s Day, a day to recognize the badass women in our lives. Inspired, I felt compelled to share a recent observation and the following self-reflection.

Who do you follow?

I’m often asked questions like “Which investors should I meet that invest in early stage, e-commerce startups?” or “Who should we invite to this founder brunch in Los Angeles?”

To make it easier to answer these questions, I built a personal CRM to better understand and leverage my network.

After playing with several CRM tools, I decided to go with Airtable, a simple yet advanced spreadsheet platform (after all, everything evolves or devolves into a spreadsheet 😉).

I started with four columns: Name, Company, Tags (Investor, CEO, founder, reporter, etc.), and Location. Then, I added two more: Gender and White (yes/no). I wanted to quantitatively understand the makeup of my network.

My next step was to populate my “CRM”, so I started with the people I follow on Twitter. As someone who lives on Twitter, this group of people has a significant influence in the news I read, perspectives I hear, and relationships I form.

After importing the list of ~1.6k people, I hired a virtual assistant to complete the six columns. The results brought to light the lack of diversity in who I follow on Twitter, a proxy for my tech-centric, professional network.

  • 79% are men
  • 85% are white

Of course people are not as simple as the color of their skin and gender but I was shocked to see the homogeneity of my own network. 😳

As a founder and someone who’s forever curious about what’s possible in tech, I thirst for fresh ideas and points-of-view. My success is dependent on it.

Creating a more diverse network isn’t altruistic. It’s selfish. Surrounding yourself with people who are different than you builds empathy and introduces perspectives that can lead to new and better products for the world.

This is something I’m working on and encourage others to do the same. A good way to start is to simply look at your own social network.

Check your network

Many people reading this have a similar homogenous network. Take a moment to review who you follow on Twitter, the people you frequently text, and the makeup of who you interact with most. Consider meeting and building relationships with people not like you.

It can start by making a few more Twitter friends — people that don’t look like you. Here are some people I follow that bring a fresh perspective into my timeline:

Who else should I add to this list?

Feel free to highlight awesome women and POC to your followers so that others can build a more diverse network. Do it now on Twitter. 🤗

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