In my humble opinion, if you’re not on Twitter, you are missing OUT! If you have a blog, it is absolutely essential. But even if you don’t have a blog, you might be surprised at the ways you can use Twitter to build your professional network.
I hear comments from people all the time who aren’t sure why they should “set up a Twitter”. And let’s just get one thing out of the way – Twitter grammar. Here’s how you use the word – tweet, tweets, tweeted, tweeting. You never “twit”, “twat” or “twittered”. Got it?
1. Choosing Your Name
I may not be the best example for this one! My Twitter handle (aka name) is @AthleteWannabe. Why? Because @WannabeAthlete was already taken. (Darn it all!) You want something that is EASY for people to remember. Too many random numbers or spellings make it hard for someone to remember your handle.
Also, shorter is better. Sometimes it’s tough to include someone’s handle in a tweet since you’re limited to 140 characters. Keeping it short and simple increases your chances that someone will be mentioning you in their conversation!
2. Deciding Who to Follow
One of the biggest mistakes I see people make with Twitter is deciding who to follow. Admittedly, I did this at first. I signed up for Twitter and started following the people Twitter thought I should follow. I followed celebrities like Oprah and Ellen. I followed singers, actors and news personalities. And I got bored. I wasn’t sure why I should care about reading what they were doing. I also wasn’t getting any followers. So I quit Twitter for a while.
When I got back on Twitter, I unfollowed those people and started following people I “knew” through the blogging world. People whose blogs I’ve been reading for years. People like @CaitlinHTP, @dailygarnish and @MealsAndMiles. They all had pretty big followings, but reading their tweets felt much more personal. I looked to see who they were following and started following some people whose profiles sounded interesting. I found new blogs and great new people that way!
Another big mistake I see is people who immediately start following hundreds of people – and have no followers. I’m sorry, but that’s not a good ratio to have. Build up your list of people you follow slowly – and hopefully some of those people will reciprocate and follow you back too. There is no magic “ratio” of how many followers/following you should have, but I can tell you that it always looks better to have more people following you than you follow!
3. Building Your Network
Yes, Twitter can be one of your greatest networking tools. Start interacting with people. Think their tweet is interesting? Reply to it with a comment. I tend to view Twitter as a giant chat room – remember those? It’s not an empty space just to voice your feelings – it’s a place to interact. To connect. You’ll be amazed at the network you can develop through Twitter.
One of the best ways to network? Use hashtags. What is a hashtag you might ask? It’s something like #fitblog or #fitfluential. If you’re looking for people who are fitness-minded, search for those things. You’ll find people tweeting with that hashtag and you’ll find people interested in the same things as you. Hashtags are also great to use at conferences. I recently attended a conference from work and used the ‘official’ hashtag for the conference. I tweeted something during a session, and saw a tweet from another person in the same session. We figured out we were sitting right next to eachother! Instant real life connection. Looking for people in your area? Use #tampa or #chicago or whatever your geographic location might be.
Another rule of networking is that it’s not who you know, it’s who knows you. This is true on Twitter too. No, you may not be able to get Oprah to start following you. But maybe you can find one of her editorial assistants and start following her. Strike up a conversation. And then maybe when she’s looking for a blogger for an upcoming project for the magazine, she might just think of you!
(Yes, Oprah has almost 11 MILLION followers!)
I have so many more Twitter tips to share, but I don’t want to overwhelm any of you newbies. One of my biggest suggestions, however, is to use a program like Hootsuite or Tweetdeck as opposed to the actual Twitter webpage. I use Hootsuite and LOVE it. It’s a more streamlined way to manage your account (or accounts if you have more than one!).
Do you have any questions about how to effectively use Twitter? Please don’t hesitate to ask in the comments!