The one reason to engage in the Twitter conversation is because the network will help you find products, services, and information that is meaningful and relevant to you.
OK - so you are right. There is also a lot of junk that isn't relevant, but when you use Twitter effectively, the network can be a valuable resource.
Late last week, Erica Driver, principal at ThinkBalm, posted a simple question to her Twitter network. Earlier in the day I had a conversation on a similar topic, which prompted me to respond. My response generated two additional tweets.
The first tweet, from Jeff Lowe, is someone within my Twitter network (and BTW, surround monitors don't exist in case you are like me and wanted to check them out).
The second tweet, from Super_PC, came from someone is who not in my list of Twitter followers. Now, I'm not sure, but I suspect Super_PC has something set-up, similar to Comcast, to enable him/her to search through the tweets and pull out those that are most relevant.
At a minimum, every company should take advantage of this free resource to help them find conversations that are relevant. There are tools that can help. I use TweetDeck, but recommend checking out this blog from Chris Brogan for other great tools and tips.
The trick, however, is not finding the conversation. It is how you respond after you find it. I personally like the approach Super_PC took. It wasn't too aggressive (for example, it didn't even include a link to their web site) and the response was relevant, timely, and somewhat informative.
Now, I'm not sure if I should buy products from Super PC or one of their competitors, but I do know that I wouldn't know about Super PC had they not taken the opportunity to introduce themselves to me at the right time.
This is just one example of many. I've watched individuals expand their professional networks resulting in new business opportunities, new ideas, and new relationships that would not be without Twitter.
So, how can you use Twitter as a valuable resource for you personally and professionally?