The Most Unusual Tweetup; And What it Means for Executives

Much has been written and debated about the value of social media in a real-world context.

Malcolm Gladwell has decried its true ability to bring about social change while at the same time news organizations around the world marvel at its ability during catastrophes – such as the one we’ve all just witnessed in Japan – to share the range of human experiences with the world at large, enable loved ones to know how their family members have fared, and to raise millions of dollars to help those affected.

For me, the real depth of the value of social media – and in particular of Twitter – blossomed to life this past week in the (literal) wake of my grandmother’s death.

You see, I shared with my Leadership Chat Co-Host Steve Woodruff, who I had first reached out to on Twitter roughly a year ago, that my grandmother had died last week.  Steve understood the pain I was in and sought a way to let me know that he and others cared – and were there for me.

He sent an email to more than 30 people who I had either met, or only knew, because of Twitter.  People who have become part of the Leadership Chat Community – or dare I say the Leadership Chat Family – that meets on Twitter every Tuesday evening at 8:00 pm ET to discuss and share insights about leadership.

Steve let them know about my loss and asked if they would be interested in sending back a note of condolence.  He compiled the responses he received and, at the conclusion of last week’s Leadership Chat on Tuesday night, he sent me the compilation.

I can’t describe the emotion that overcame me as I read the email.  It took me more than 30 minutes to read it, absorb the depth of the solace I was receiving, and to finally dry the tears that were flowing.

Rather than simply receiving condolences, I had received an outpouring of love and very personal memories from people I had, in many cases, only tweeted with and had never met before.

One gentleman I had never met before, Lou Imbriano, went even further.  He told me he wanted to come pay his respects at my grandmother’s wake.  And he did.

So, in what I have to believe is the most unusual place for a tweetup, we met at the funeral parlor where my family was honoring my grandmother.  And, in typical Italian fashion, it turned out that Lou knew someone else at the wake much better than I did…he has known a second-cousin of mine for years!

Can you imagine the look on my Italian aunts’ faces when they said, “How do you know that nice man?” and I responded, “I met him on Twitter.”  Mama Mia!

Why should you – and C-suite executives – care about this story?

C-suite executives understand that at the core of their career success is their ability to create, nurture and grow relevant business relationships. They understand the critical need to give to their networks well before they ever need to ask.  And they understand the impact that it has on them when a member of their network does something on a personal level for them.

Helping them understand that all of this is possible on a social tool like Twitter is imperative to getting them to think differently about social media.

It is not unusual for me to be at dinner with a number of them and to hear them say something as simple as, “I just don’t get the appeal of tweeting.”  I use that as my entree to tell them about the executives that they can meet and create real collaborations, business ideas and real-world relationships with through the medium of Twitter.

Relationships that transcend geography and have enough force to change our lives for the better in ways we often can’t imagine.

I will never forget the outreach, support and love that I received this past week.  And I will be sharing this story with my clients to help them fully understand the true depth of the relationships that they – and their companies and brands – can forge via Twitter.

How about you? Do you have a Twitter or social media relationship story that you would share with an executive to help them better understand its business value?  I would be honored to hear it!

AND – please join my Leadership Chat Co-Host Steve Woodruff and me tonight, Tuesday, March 15th, for this month’s Open Mic version of our chat on Twitter.  It’s not the same without all of you!  We would be honored to have each and every one of you there, sharing your leadership experiences with the Leadership Chat Community.

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You can find me on Twitter at @LisaPetrilli and on LinkedIn at I look forward to seeing you there!

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Photo is Blooming Lily by Suchitra Prints.




  1. I’m sorry to hear of your loss Lisa. Hugs to you and yours.

    And thanks for sharing this amazing lesson. Wow! Yay Lou!
    Phil Gerbyshak´s last blog post ..See the Future of Apple and more with Dan Burrus

  2. Lou imbriano says:


    It was very nice to meet you and your family, I wish it was under happy circumstances. But, I’m glad I could be there even for a brief moment say hello and pay my respects. I look forward to seeing you in Chicago next month so we can break some bread together.

    I hope you are doing well.

    My best,

    • Lou,

      It was truly an honor to meet you – and a blessing to have you there with me. I can’t wait to see you in April as well – hugs and all my best, Lisa


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