If you’re like me, you’re weary of joining yet another social network. You’re on LinkedIn and maybe even Facebook, that should be enough. Wrong. Bottom line, if you’re not micro-blogging on Twitter you are missing out on one of the most powerful and easy to use, not to mention fun social media tools today. I took a quick look and saw that only 10% of my professional network is on Twitter (and most of them are not active). It’s time for everybody to step it up.
Twitter has an unprofessional name, but as you’ll see it has the potential to amplify your networking, business development, job search and relationship building at unprecedented speed.
Let’s talk about some basics:
1. Brevity is the soul of Twitter. Your messages (known as “Tweets”) need to be less than 140 characters. As you’ll see this is more liberating than constricting.
2. Creating a Twitter account could not be easier, but you have a very limited amount of space to create a profile, so make it count.
3. Twitter was originally created with SMS in mind. This means that the majority of your messages can easily be written from your Blackberry or iPhone, or any phone for that matter.
4. Keep in mind that everything you write in Twitter is tracked by the search engines. Always assume that everything you write will be read by everyone.
If you use the “What are you working on?” feature on LinkedIn, or the “What are you thinking?” feature on Facebook you have an idea about how Twitter works. Now imagine a massive social river of these bite-sized updates streaming past your screen. You’d be able to set up instant networking meetings, know who’s meeting where, which jobs just hit the market and which articles are being read by the people you respect and follow, among other timely information.
I find that posting job leads on group discussion boards is clumsy and not at all effective. If you subscribe to email alerts from these job boards you’re likely inundated with job leads that simply don’t interest you. On Twitter, everyone can post these same job leads in real time without flooding everyone else’s inbox. Beyond seeing leads posted by your personal network, HR professionals are increasingly posting jobs on Twitter before they ever hit the job boards. If you want to learn more about the nuances of job searching on Twitter click HERE.
Twitter is a collective stream of consciousness. That means that everyone downloads their thoughts, both professional and personal, into a central shared space. Over time you start to see who’s a fisherman, a skier or a yogi. All of this contributes to building stronger interpersonal networks of executives that can connect and build meaningful relationships on more than one level. If you want to see what other executives are writing about check out www.exectweets.com.
There are many nuances native to Twitter that you’ll learn over time. Here are five you should know off the bat:
1. Twitter asks “What are you doing?”, but don’t let that limit what you write about. You can also answer, “What are you thinking?”, “What are you reading?”, “Which jobs are you applying to?” It’s really up to you.
2. Unlike “Contacts” on LinkedIn, the people you “Follow” on Twitter do not automatically follow you back. However, many will follow you back out of courtesy. Thus, the more people you follow the more people might follow you. Was that confusing?
3. The Twitter search engine isn’t user friendly. I recommend using www.search.twitter.com when searching for people or specific topics.
4. If you want to post an article you found online you’ll need to shorten the URL so that it doesn’t use up all 140 characters. To shorten URLs visit www.tinyurl.com. It’s a cinch.
5. When you reply to somebody else’s message your tweet shows up on that person’s timeline. This is a great way to get exposure and gain new followers if your response was relevant and adds to the conversation.
Most of all, don’t forget to have fun. I highly recommend starting an account today. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t get the hang of it right away. You might say Twitter is an acquired taste. Once you’re on find me at www.twitter.com/thesocialexec. Follow me and I’ll be sure to keep the Twitter tips coming.
I suggest you continue reading about Twitter. Here are some articles to get you started: