Tom Suder is a senior advisor for the University of Central Florida’s Institute for Simulation & Training (IS&T), an internationally-renowned academic research center that utilizes modeling, simulation and virtual reality technology for the advancement of training and education. A respected thought leader in the Federal IT market, Suder represents UCF in the Washington, D.C. area and provides the federal government with academic research and expertise in the area of mobile technology. Suder recently answered a few questions for WashingtonExec about his background in the private sector, and his social media routines.
WashingtonExec: What is your background in IT?
Tom Suder: I was a co-founder and partner of a successful business for over 15 years. Acting in a CTO role, I would implement technology as early as possible to save money and obtain new customers.
For example I implemented a “Cloud-first” strategy in 2006-2007 to migrate email and applications to the cloud. I also used collaborative technologies to gather intelligence from our sales reps and project managers that increased market penetration in our space. We used internal dialogues and created an internal “facebook-like” site to develop trust and community within the company that led to increased sales and profitability.
I’ve taken some of the ideas that I used in my company and helped the government on collaborative projects such as the Better Buy Project, a collaborative Wiki for government procurement and the OMB “Mythbusters” public dialogue.
WashingtonExec: How do you build your personal brand?
Tom Suder: I am a believer in the “all-the-above” strategy. I start with “Linkedin.” I have around 2000 contacts or so. After I meet someone, usually face-to-face, I send them a personal note and get “LinkedIn” to them. It is a great way for someone to look you up and see your vitals; education, background, and who you know.
If a friend of mine is “Linkedin” to someone that I am going to meet, that I do not know, I can always call them to get a feel for that person.
Facebook is sort of the next level. I need to know them a little bit more personally before I friend them. I really feel that you get to know a person and what their family, hobbies, and passions are on Facebook.
Then the next time you meet them you can jump into a dialogue that is a little deeper than surface level since you know them better.
WashingtonExec: Why do you use Twitter?
Tom Suder: Twitter is a great way to get spun up on topics of interests and people that you would like to know better. If you are in BD or sales and went to know what is going on in an agency the best way is to follow them on Twitter. You get to know what makes them tick and what keeps them awake at night. When you get the opportunity to meet them, you already know them and where your product or service will fit into their enterprise. Also, if you need to get spun up on a topic such as cloud computing, you need to follow the experts. They will point you to the right articles in trade magazines to interesting conferences. If you can’t go to a conference, just follow someone that is there and they will “live tweet” what is going on at the conference with possible commentary. If you have any questions, you can ask them and more than likely they will get back to you.
Twitter is also used to engage in conversations with people that may be difficult or impossible to get to. One of my followers is Congressman Giffords. Apparently, she was interested in some comments I made on border security so she started following.
Craig Newmark. Twitter. I can’t tell you how many times I will introduce myself to someone and they will say something to the effect that I know you…I think I follow you on Twitter. Twitter allows you to “spar” and interact with colleagues and customers.
WashingtonExec: How can you keep track of all the tweets of all the people you follow?
Tom Suder: First of all a tweet stream is like the radio, sometimes you can jump in the middle of it and see what is there. Twitter has a function called “lists” that organizes the people you follow. For instance I have a “govies” list that is all the interesting government people I follow. I just check it from time to time.
For a select few people I follow, Twitter can send their updates my phone via text. These “textworthy” folks are usually reporters tweeting scoops.
WashingtonExec: How would you sum up the main difference between twitter and other forms of social media?
Tom Suder: Information is power, no matter what your line of work is, and Twitter is probably the best social media tool to gain information in your field of interest.