This is not a blog post about any titanic trend or an insight into a new marketing strategy. This is about one little thing — tweeting when you’re not supposed to — and what it might mean to your career.

geno smithOne of my favorite college football players is Geno Smith of West Virginia University.  I have rarely seen a young athlete approach the game with more intelligence, intensity, and leadership.

Many people expected him to win college football’s highest honor, the Heisman trophy and perhaps be the first athlete picked up in the professional football draft last week.

It turns out, he wasn’t a contender for the Heisman honor and was not even the first player at his position to be chosen in the draft.  Over the last six months, his stock has continued to slip among the professional football executives despite his breath-taking skills. Why?

Perhaps it is because he tweets too much.

The thrill of victory. The agony of de tweet.

Jason Cole of Yahoo! Sports reported that when Smith went on visits to prospective teams, rather than interact with coaches and front-office people who would be making the decision to hire (draft) him, he would spend much of his time by himself on his cell phone, texting friends and interacting with his Twitter stream.

One official said: “All these other players who were in there were talking to the coaches, trying to get to know people and he was over there by himself,” one of the sources said. “That’s not what you want out of your quarterback.”

Eventually Geno was drafted in the second round by the New York Jets, but his disconnected attitude may have cost him millions of dollars in salary, endorsements, and publicity as a first-round draft pick.

I have a friend who might actually lose his job over Twitter. He’s addicted to his Twitter stream and tweets constantly. His employer is upset about this habit and told him that he needs to concentrate at work.  “They just don’t understand me,” my friend lamented. “This is how I stay connected to my friends.”

A few weeks ago, I noticed that a well-known social media celebrity was tweeting and texting from a conference panel in front of a room filled with several hundred people. Instead of paying attention to the moderator and interacting with the other panelists, he disconnected from the conversation the entire time with his head down in his Twitter stream.

Be here now.

I imagine that some readers from Generation Text might be thinking “Who cares?”

Obviously the NFL team owners care.  Even though Geno Smith is a remarkable talent, they wanted him to pay attention. I think that even in our text-frenzied world, it should be a priority to be present in the moment, to provide individual attention that communicates “I care about what is going on here, right now, instead of the action on my phone.”

I might not be an NFL team owner drafting a quarterback, but I have made a mental note to never hire or recommend that distracted social media celebrity panelist for a speaking engagement. There are a lot of choices out there. Being attentive and professional is important, even if you have loads of talent — as Geno found out.

Everything communicates. Everything becomes part of your personal brand … including how and when you use Twitter. Do you agree? Or, do you see expectations in the business world changing to conform to Generation Text?

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