8 Twitter Networking Tips: From Online to In-the-Flesh

twitter-networking.jpgMore and more twitter users are actually taking their Twitter interactions and meeting up in real life. In this post Steph Auteri from Freelancedom (@stephauteri) shares some tips on how to do it.

I find new excuses to create Excel worksheets. I lament the lost art of the cover letter and other forms of traditional business correspondence. I read books such as Peter Bowerman’s The Well-Fed Writer and Allison Hemming’s Work It!, which preach against lazy, Internet-based business practices.

Yet I have been thoroughly charmed by the Twitter phenomenon, and am an out-and-out evangelist in support of using it as a means to further your career.

I didn’t know quite what to do with Twitter until I read a post on Problogger that advised setting Twitter goals. My mind immediately grasped upon the possibilities for promoting my multiple blogs and, since then, I have (I hope) maintained that focus. (Just ignore those tweets that mention Xanax, wine, and my three cats…) It was a happy surprise when it became clear just how much Twitter could help my career in other ways.

Read on for tips on how to use Twitter to take networking from online to in-the-flesh.

1. Use Your Twitter Profile As You Would a Business Card:

Those cards I had done up at VistaPrint are so perfect. They include my name, title, phone number, e-mail address, and website URL and, best of all, they even match my site’s background! I love how they represent the brand I’ve created for myself. Your Twitter profile should operate in a similar manner. Pimp that URL of yours in the appropriate space. Craft a well-written professional description in the spot meant for your bio. Personalize the background also! It will help you stand out from the pack. And then include a link to your Twitter account on every last social networking site you belong to, and in your e-mail signature as well. (Bonus tip: If you want to go all out — and frighten friends and family! — order a T-shirt with your Twitter ID.)

2. Let Your Twitter Feed Be Your (Ongoing) Portfolio:

While I maintain a portfolio on my professional site, I often suspect that no one actually goes there. Even when I include a link in my cover letters. This makes me sad. But nothing beats the immediacy of a tweeted link! I tend to tweet the links to my latest clips, and also point my followers toward the blog posts I’m most proud of. This way, people don’t become overwhelmed by how amazingly prolific I am, or mistake me for a spammer. If this is not a worry, there are Twitter applications — such as twitterfeed — that automatically feed your post titles and links straight to Twitter. Not only will you get a nice bump in traffic from your own tweeple, but followers might find your work so gosh-darn awesome that they retweet it, placing it in front of a constantly growing number of eyes. Who knows what could happen then! I’ve actually received additional writing assignments from those impressed with my already-existing work.

3. Grow Your Twitter Network:

If you’re doing everything right — posting helpful and interesting tweets, maintaining a healthy level of back-and-forth, and seeking out other Twitter users worth following — your network will grow organically. Once you have them there, it’s time to harness their remarkable power…

4. Get the Lowdown:

…by getting the lowdown on things like professional organizations, conferences, and other events. In musing — via tweet — about the pros and cons of joining the EFA, the NWU, or Freelance Success, I received immediate feedback of others’ personal experiences with each. Being able to determine the effectiveness of real-work events and networking groups before paying an arm and a leg, based upon the firsthand experiences of others, can be invaluable.

5. Tweet Yourself Up:

…by advertising your wares. I tweet about the blog posts I’m working on. I tweet about the manuscripts I’m copy editing. I tweet about the articles I’m researching. It makes me sound way productive. Plus, it gives others an idea of where my skills and talents lie. If you happen to tweet a lot about your amazing grasp of the behavioral sciences, or of medical writing, you’ll be the first person people think of when they need a medical copywriter. Or a shrink.

6. Ask for Help:

…by sending out an SOS. It’s been known to happen. People have acquired employment by simply letting others know they were looking for work. But you can start smaller. Ask for input on that blog post you’re working on. Search for interview subjects for that next article (I use Twellow or Twitter Search). Ask all of the tens of thousands of web developers out there why that plugin didn’t work when you did the whatchamacallit to the thingamabobber. There is a world of wisdom out there, just waiting for your call.

7. And Help Others:

Is there a way to measure Twitter karma? Or is it wrong to quantify the ways in which you help others? Either way, I believe karma exists, and the more you help others, the more others are willing to help you. This can mean simply answering others’ queries, making suggestions, or offering your help when a fellow Twitter user appears in distress. Some twitterers go a step further, and create accounts meant solely for charitable purposes. Twestival — which “brings together Twitter communities for an evening of fun and to raise money and awareness for charity” — is just one example (more information can be found here). Another one I’ve recently come across is JobAngels. They define themselves as a movement, in which they ask followers to help one person find a job. Several of the people I’m following have already retweeted their request.

8. Plan a Tweetup:

All of the above has referenced the real world only indirectly, by mentioning actions you can do in the Twitterverse in order to affect your non-virtual life. For my last point, I’d like to mention Tweetups, the happy and inevitable cousin of the Meetup. Rather than waiting for an event to happen, why not plan your own meeting of the (Twitter-based) minds? You can follow tweetup to learn about happenings in your area, or just send a shout-out to your own followers, asking if anyone would be game for taking things offline. While online networking can be amazing in its influence, I often find that nothing beats a face-to-face meeting. Placing a face to a name…being able to talk at length with more than 140 characters…bonding over a glass (or five) of wine or the healing powers of a cup of coffee…all of these things can help you to develop a more concrete connection with someone you’ve only been conversing with online. In marveling over the powers of the Internet, don’t discredit the traditional tactics.

Comments

  • February 5, 2009

    I love the fact that you had a shirt made! Detication will take you far!…The points made here, also go past just twitter, if you can get involved with other site’s/blog’s give feedback, help around when you can. Twitter is like going to first grade and learning the basics to get around and meet people. GREAT!!! post here.

  • February 5, 2009

    Really excellent ideas!

    I actually attended a Tweetup when I was speaking at a convention in Boston and it was actually really cool!

  • February 5, 2009

    #5 rocks, Stephauteri. “Tweet yourself up.” You’re the first I learned this from. Thank you.

  • February 5, 2009

    Wow – Excellent article!

    This article is almost like when you was in school learning various kind of subjects and you set there wondering where is this going? And then you got out in the real world wondering why did I not learn this in school..

    Two tumbs up for this article!

    Article will be bookmarked, and I retweet Darrens tweet.

    Cheers…

  • February 5, 2009

    I love how this article makes it clear how valuable Twitter can be and gives tangible actions that you can do to contribute to your success.

  • February 5, 2009

    I really appreciate the balance in this article between asking and offering. Yes, promote yourself, but also give and help. Great stuff! What I also think is cool is when an in-the-flesh relationship also goes Twitter – it adds one more little layer to our interaction with people whom we already know but may not communicate with as often as we’d like.

  • February 5, 2009

    Twitter and things you can do with it will always cease to amaze me. Great article!

  • February 5, 2009

    Wow, A social component of a social network. Awesome! I love this aspect of Twitter. I’m always seeing tweets about lunch or coffee plans and meeting when I arrive at city “x”.

    A wise Twitterer would heed the tips here. A greatly enhanced experience will be yours, indeed!

    Cheers!

    George

  • February 5, 2009

    Some excellent ideas here.

    I don’t make enough of my social networking profiles to show I have a Twitter account too. That’s something I can do straight away, and will.

  • February 5, 2009

    Nice post! Really informative and good ideas. I saw it up on Twitter!

  • February 5, 2009

    Hey Steph, great article.
    Can you (or anyone else) give me a bit of advice. You say you use twitter search? How can I send a question to a “group” of web developers or IT Experts etc

    Cheers

  • February 5, 2009

    Excellent article!

    I’m a Twitter newb myself, but reading this blog is helping tap into its vast potential.

  • February 5, 2009

    Well, I picked a heckuva day to be away from my computer.

    Thanks, guys, for your oh-so-flattering comments and great feedback. :) I’m glad I was able to be of service.

    @Brandon: You know…it’s amazing. So few of my in-the-flesh friends have become Twitter friends, but it’s exciting when they do! That way, those I can’t see so often can keep up on (every. single. aspect of.) my life! Most of my friends, though, have never even heard of Twitter, or just don’t understand it. It makes me wonder about the demographics of Twitter users, based upon career.

    @Daniel: I believe there’s a way to create groups among your tweeple, but I’m not sure how. Generally, I use the search function to pinpoint specific people, and then make contact with them on an individual basis. Aside from that, I also often post SOS-type when I have questions or need sources, and rely upon my followers to respond or retweet. Perhaps someone else here has some other tricks up there sleeve, or knows of a way to pinpoint groups…?

  • February 5, 2009

    I love the idea of thinking of my profile and background as a business card. That’s what I’ll be working on this weekend.

    Great post. I had to share with all my followers.

  • February 7, 2009

    Wow!!! I am very new to Twitter and had noooo idea the different things I could Twitter for. I especially love the idea of using your profile as a kind of “business card” I never know what to put in the bio section…until now.

    Thank you

  • February 7, 2009

    Gracias, well its great that i could use its like that, in fact its a good recommendation for life time in twitter.

  • February 11, 2009

    Great article and tips. If I seek a request for help I do answer and/or pass it on to someone I know that could help.

  • February 17, 2009

    I struggle with some of these suggestions as it just goes against so many years of anti-social (ok, not really anti-social, but introverted) behavior. I’ve better about it with tools like Twitter, but my first inclination is not to advertise my Twitter name. Kind of a paradox for sure.

  • July 13, 2009

    If there was a tweetup with a bunch of affiliate marketers in Central Ohio I would be there for sure but I don’t think the interest is there from more than 5 people. Too bad.

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