So, you finally took the plunge and signed up for Twitter. You even got a little hard core and started tweeting regularly several times per day and following influencers in your industry. (You also followed Kanye West, but, hey, no one needs to know that!)
Now that you’re starting to feel more comfortable with the platform, you may be wondering what the next steps are to step up your Twitter game and really use it to benefit your career.
Taking your tweeting to the next level really depends on what you want to do: Are you looking to make rock-star new contacts? Read great content in your field? Find jobs? Something else entirely?
Here are a few things to try, based on exactly what you want to get out of your Twitter experience.
1. If You Want to Start Networking
You might feel weird following people you admire and then awkwardly tweeting at them individually, so what if there was a way to interact directly with people who really do want to connect with others who have similar interests?
Good news! There are Twitter chats constantly taking place on pretty much any topic you can think of. The great thing about Twitter chats is that that people who sign on to do them don’t just want to give their opinions; they also want to interact with others and hear their thoughts, too. These are collaborative efforts meant to bring together users, which in turn makes for some great networking opportunities.
If you’re not sure which Twitter chat is in line with your industry or interests, this comprehensive list is a great place to look.
One important thing to remember about using Twitter chats for networking purposes: Like all professional relationships, the ones you make online still have to happen organically, too! Don’t force any connections during a Twitter chat, and if there’s someone you hit it off with, follow him or her and continue to interact on Twitter. If at that point you two are continuing to connect well, that would be a good time to ask for an email address and chat elsewhere.
Want some more advice on how to rock a Twitter chat? Liz Furl has got you covered here.
2. If You Want to Find Better Content
Tracking a single hashtag for good reads can be incredibly overwhelming (not to mention completely spam-filled), so an easier place to start is to look for well-curated lists or create your own.
In my experience, Twitter lists are really underutilized by a lot of tweeters, despite how totally awesome they can be. These lists allow you to group together people and have all of their tweets to come in on separate feed. Think of it like a hyper-specific version of your Twitter feed, allowing you to compartmentalize different types of information.
For example, if you follow people who tweet really great content on productivity hacks, it might get lost in the shuffle of your regular feed. But if you create a list of awesome productivity experts, you can now see updates in real-time without all of the extra fluff that comes from the rest of the Twitterverse. Voilá—you’ve got the content you’re looking for.
Creating a list and adding people to it is the easy part (you can click on any user and click “Add to List”), but keeping up with them is much harder. To stay in the loop, I highly recommend bookmarking your lists (as you would any other website), or using a Twitter app like TweetDeck, which allows you to create columns for individual lists.
3. If You Want to Get Known in Your Field
I can personally attest to the power of Twitter to help build a personal brand. The best part? It couldn’t be easier.
Building a personal brand on Twitter isn’t just about posting one or two articles every day; it’s about creating your own content that shows your audience (and potential followers) what you’re about. For example, the next time you see an article you like, don’t just post it; add a quick sentence or two with some commentary on the piece. Or, ask your followers for their thoughts on the article. Commenting on the content other people post is just as effective at building a personal brand for your own Twitter account, so don’t feel like you’re limited to only thinking about what you post on your own feed.
Over time, people do notice when other people’s names come up over and over again on their Twitter feeds, and they’re more likely to check you out! But remember: Being “known” isn’t just about follower counts. It’s about people hearing or seeing your name and being able to instantly recognize you and recall what you’re about.
4. If You Want to Get a Job
There are several different ways to use Twitter to help you land a job. First and foremost, there’s a plethora of Twitter accounts out there that serve as job boards for virtually any industry you can imagine. Just doing a quick search on Twitter for these (for example, “journalism jobs”) can help you find different ones to follow. There are similar accounts for industry news, which ccn give you an idea of who’s hiring or which specific sectors are on the hunt for new employees.
Second, Twitter allows you to follow companies (many of which post job listings and new openings on their accounts), and many larger organizations even have a separate account for jobs or company updates. (Here are 31 to get you started.)
Lastly, you can follow The Muse on Twitter for great job search tips, updates on awesome companies, and a whole lot more.
5. If You Want to Promote Your Company or a Project You’re Working On
I’ll admit it: I’ve muted or unfollowed people I really like because they got way too self-promotional. In one case, a professional contact of mine was tweeting upwards of 30 times per day about her company’s latest initiative (in addition to tweeting at me personally about it several times). It just got to be too much.
The good news is, promoting things on Twitter doesn’t have to be this annoying. My first piece of advice: Promotion is about long-term strategy. For example, if your company is trying to promote its new website, I’d recommend tweeting about it only two or three times per day, tops. Over time, switch up the times you tweet about the change, as well as the language you use to promote it. Your followers will see this as less spammy, and in my experience, they’ll be more likely to check something out if you’re excited about it but not in their faces all the time.
Additionally, if you want to tweet at particular followers to promote something, craft your tweets to be specifically geared toward that person. Everyone likes to feel special, and no one wants to feel like they’re just another person you’re mass-sending a tweet to. It’ll take more time to send individually crafted tweets, but you’re way more likely to have people engage with whatever you’re promoting.
What I love about Twitter is the fact that it can allow you to do so many different things for your career in one place. And I’ll admit it: Having awesome career advice and job opportunities mixed in with cat memes is pretty great, too.