How to Use Twitter to Get Up Close to the Pros?

Aaron McHugh

Twitter & Ironman

Twitter can get us up close with the pros that we follow.

If you use Twitter correctly you can have personal interactions with athletes, authors, musicians, and speakers, etc.  Let me show you how.

Have you ever watched the Hawaii Ironman on TV?  It’s nuts right?

Swim 2.4 miles in the ocean, bike 112 along the wind swept coastline, and then run a marathon (26.2) in the sun baked lava fields.

In 2009, I had the privilege of playing the role of support crew for one of my buddies, Neal Oseland, who earned his way to race this world championship event-Ironman Hawaii.  When the gun goes off and the athletes begin their quest to finish before the seventeen (17) hour cut off at midnight, it is powerful.

You’ve seen the images on TV, athletes thrashing in the water, swimming over top one another.  On the bike, there are crashes and coastal headwinds demoralizing even the strongest of riders.

All day long the athletes make their way through each discipline, as a spectator you are two feet away from them as they pass by.  The proximity to the professional athletes is unlike any sporting event I have ever attended.

The Run is where you get close to the action.

When I worked an aid station at mile 12 on the run I was as close as you can get to the action.  I would hold out a cup of water or Gatorade offering to every athlete that passes.

What you begin to realize is that every single one of them, pro athlete, amateur, young and old welcome encouragement, “Number #1063, You can do it!  Keep going.”

A spring returns to their step, a refocus, a reminder to their internal self  “Yeah I can do this“.  While working this aid station I was up and personal with Chris McCormack (@MaccaNow), Craig Alexander (@CrowieAlexander), Norman Stadler (@normanns), and others.

Eye ball to eye ball, I was able to lob a few ounces of “go get ’em” into their tanks.  Being at Ironman Hawaii is a powerful experience and truly helps to restore your belief in humanity.

Chris McCormack chasing down Craig Alexander
Craig Alexander 200 yards from winning in 2009

What does this have to do with Twitter?

Using Twitter is like being at the Ironman in Hawaii, like the Ironman you can have direct interaction with the Pros.

Most of the time in life, take a concert or a sporting event like football, the closest you are going to get is the front row.  But even then you are very far from actually being in the game or on the stage.

Twitter affords direct interaction with those famed icons that you follow. (click to Tweet)

Direct interactions with the real people, not just their “contact me” page.

Lance Armstrong (to keep with the athlete theme), you can send Lance a tweet and he might reply back to you.  So while he is pulled over on his bike in the Pyrenees checking his iPhone he sends back “@yourname thanks. Live Strong”.

Try doing that with his “contact me” email form on his website.  Good luck, no way will he personally be checking and writing reply messages via email.

Twitter enables direct access to the individuals that you esteem as “smart, rich, powerful, eloquent, fast, cool, and influential”. (click to Tweet)

Where else do we have that kind of VIP back door access to these people?

Here are some examples of my Ironman like interactions on Twitter:

Lance Armstrong:

@lancearmstrong Hey Lance. I’m good friends with (name) and (name). Warm Aloha’s to you today. Look forward to a Queen-K ride.


Reply: @lancearmstrong
@aarondmchugh coupla great dudes. We can’t wait to return to (vacation spot). Be there soon.

Who is Lance Armstrong?  …… 🙂

Michael Hyatt:

@MichaelHyatt I am planning to link to this article. Is this your best example of why “Ship it” now?


Reply: @MichaelHyatt
@aarondmchugh I would check this one too: 

Who is Michael Hyatt?  He is a New York Times best selling author.  His most recent book Platform-Get Noticed in a Noisy World.

Chris Guillebeau:

@chrisguillebeau Great post yesterday. “I am no Guru”. That is the exact humility that compels people to follow up. Count me in!


Reply: @chrisguillebeau
@aarondmchugh glad to have you around.

Who is Chris Guillebeau?  He is on a quest to travel to every country in the world.  His recent book, $100 Startup has sold over 75,000 copies.

 Hugh MacLeod:

@gapingvoid Hugh im driving thru South TX thinking about your meet packing story from Evil Plans.


Reply: @gapingvoid
@aarondmchugh Hurrah!

Who is Hugh MacLeod?  Hugh is a cartoonist and author.  His book Evil Plans has helped free many people to start their own revolution.


Be genuine, be kind, be encouraging and be yourself.

I don’t know these guys.

I didn’t pick up the phone and try and get past their secretary or meet any criteria to get a reply.

It is easy to be ignored.

I’d recommend that just like at your favorite sporting event, don’t heckle anyone or tell them how to play the game.

They are people too.

They too wonder if anyone reads their stuff, or appreciates their accomplishments.  Just like a Triathlete rounding mile 16 on the run course, 12 hours into the race, they too would love to hear “Way to go-keep going-you can do it!”.  Trust me on this.

Give it a try.

What are a couple of pieces of advice you would offer when engaging people you don’t know on Twitter?

*Disclaimer-I share these interactions that I have had by way of example.  Please be respectful.  Thank you.

*Neal Oseland finished in 10:03 and was 309th in the world.  

8 thoughts on “How to Use Twitter to Get Up Close to the Pros?

  1. Thanks Aaron, especially for the solid examples. Twitter is one of those things that people see as cool, but wonder “So, how exactly would I use that?” This is a great answer.

  2. Thanks Aaron, especially for the solid examples. Twitter is one of those things that people see as cool, but wonder “So, how exactly would I use that?” This is a great answer.

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