When I meet people in real life, Twitter usually comes into the conversation. Twitter is in the news nowadays, it's part of smalltalk, like sports and the weather. If I find out the other person is on Twitter, I follow them. Usually I take out my cell phone and do it right then and there, letting them know what I'm doing.
I follow business associates.
I sometimes follow interesting people I see speak at events, or who write interestingly on the Internet.
I follow some of my favorite book authors.
I follow many of the people who follow me. I have Twitter configured to send me an e-mail anytime I get a new follower, and I look over those messages a few times a week. I filter those messages through the free Topify service, which adds additional information to the e-mails, such as the most recent tweets the person sent.
Some days, when I'm busy, I just look at my new-follower notifications and see if there are any names I recognize. Last week, I saw the name of one of my best friends from high school. I liked that. Mostly, the names are strangers to me, and I don't follow them back.
When I have a little more time, I look over profiles of my new followers as they come in. The most important thing I look at is the list of most recent tweets. If I see a tweet asking everybody to Digg something, I don't follow that person. I hate that kind of begging. I'll put up with it from people I know and like for other reasons, but if that's the first thing I see you do, then I'm not interested in talking to you anymore.
And in the time since I started writing this essay I followed three more people.
This story, "How to Find and Follow the Best Twitter Users" was originally published by Computerworld.