Twitter is one social media site that can take a little getting used to. (Yes, I am ending this in a preposition!) However, if you build your network carefully, it can be an excellent source of job leads and networking contacts. Twitter can also be a fun and easy way for you to get your message out to others in your field and gain a positive reputation. Here are a few basics to get you started, but I recommend you read Twitter 101 to gain a solid foundation on effective Twitter usage.
Hashtags which are # symbols allow you to categorize your posts, or tweets as they are called. So for example, when I tweet, I often use the #career hashtag. The length of your content must be 140 words or less. Twitter has a built in character counter that lets you know how many words you have used.
If you need to post a URL that is lengthy, you can make it smaller by going to http://tinyurl.com or using one of the many twitter utilities. TweetDeck is a very popular product that allows you to track messages from multiple social media websites. With TweetDeck you can automatically create a shorter URL and do many other things to help you easily categorize incoming tweets. To address someone in your message, you can use the @ (at) symbol before their user name. For example, if you had a tweet that you wanted to direct towards me, you would put @DebraWheatman in the tweet.
OK, now on to why you would want to bother with this learning curve?
Twitter can connect you with others that share similar business and personal interests. The best name to use is your own name in order to brand yourself. However, if your name is not available, you can add a few numbers to it to make it unique. Make sure to add your photo and a brief bio. If you have a blog or a website, add the link/s to these as well.
- To start, you can run a search directly on twitter for potential connections to follow. Try to choose well known connections that have a strong following to start with. Next, you will start tweeting.
- At first, nobody will be following you, but as you continue to contribute by retweeting valuable information from others or generating your own content, you will find that people begin to add your name to their list.
- Another thing you can do is start following friends and colleagues. You can also ask them to follow you. One site that will help you search for people is called Twellow. It is a directory of over 1 million twitter users.
- You can tweet links to articles, podcasts, and You Tube videos. You can also tweet opinions about relevant topics. Be careful to stick with comments that will represent your personal brand in a positive way.
- Provide valuable content when you tweet. No need to tweet about being at Starbucks or having your nails done. Sharing relevant, timely, and interesting information with other people in the Twitter universe will help you grow your network and encourage people to think of you in a positive professional way.
If and when you reach out to someone for help or advice, you will have a better chance of getting a response and the help you are looking for. Remember, part of establishing your professional brand hinges on reputation. Be sure to cross promote by including your twitter username in your email footer. If you have a blog or website, add links to twitter and be sure people can easily retweet your articles using a convenient tweet button. Of course if you have a digital résumé or VisualCV, you will want to add your twitter address there as well.
While twitter can be a little confusing initially, it is actually very basic and will allow you to quickly and easily get your message out, build your brand, and connect with others who are in the similar space to you. There are many free software solutions and utilities to help you manage your efforts on Twitter. We will cover these in greater detail in a future blog article.
If you would like assistance with your personal branding strategy and the use of social media including Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit us at Careers Done Write.
Debra Wheatman, CPRW, CPCC is President of Careers Done Write, a premier career services provider focused on developing highly personalized career roadmaps for senior leaders and executives across all verticals and industries.