By Michele Weisman The idea of professional networking makes many people feel uncomfortable, intimidated, or confused. It's easy to see why. Many dread walking into a room and introducing themselves to a bunch of strangers.
Networking can be viewed as insincere at best and selfish at worst. This, of course, is the complete opposite of what networking is supposed to be — friendly, useful, and genuine. It’s easy for most of us to be friendly and useful with people we know. However, because networking is a “business activity,” it’s easy to think that we need to act in a different way.
Some common fears include:
- What if somebody doesn't respond to me?
- What are the best conversation starters?
- How will I know what to talk about?
- Will I come off as desperate?
- How do I make an appropriate introduction?
- What happens if I forget the person's name?
- If we met online, will the person look and act the same in person?
Here are 5 simple action items on how to be a networking rock star on Twitter.
1. Utilize Twitter Search. If you’re not quite ready to network or you don't know where to start, I always say: Search Before You Tweet! There are many intricate monitoring tools, but one simple, free one is Twitter Search. Search for your LinkedIn connections, fellow marketers in your industry, desired prospects and companies, etc. Use the tool to find out exactly what people are saying, so that when you are ready to join the conversation, you are that much better prepared to engage with them. You can also find desired prospects via Twitter search and follow them.
Action item: Use Twitter search to find alumni. Search your college name and the college's Twitter handle. Cross reference who you are already connected to on LinkedIn and search for additional users.
2. Engage (and show you actually mean it). Social media allows for expressions of gratitude at a greater scale than ever before. Start by personally thanking everyone who gives feedback, shares your content, pays you a compliment, or favorites your tweets. Let your followers know how much you appreciate their support by sharing their content too. Build meaningful relationships by engaging with your followers. With social media, responsiveness is no longer a choice. Prompt responsiveness shows followers that you are accessible, transparent, and personable. Additionally, favorite tweets. The favorite button is equivalent to the like button. When favoriting a tweet, you are endorsing the content and letting the user know you like it.
Action item: Discuss commonalities such as favorite sport teams, musicians, hobbies, etc. People bond around things they have in common and Twitter is the perfect platform for people to tap into other people's interests. Send articles that are meaningful and be helpful.
3. Create Twitter lists. A Twitter list is a curated group of users. You can either create your own list or subscribe to a list created by another user. When viewing a list, the user sees a stream of tweets from only the users added to that list. Lists are a great source to cut through the noise on Twitter and connect with a select group of users in real-time. Twitter lists allow users to recommend other users to follow. Additionally, when you subscribe to a Twitter list, you’re not actually following every user on the list, but following the entire list. Create lists of your customers, prospects, brand ambassadors and/or employees. Subscribe to the Likeable Media Team Twitter list here.
Action item: Subscribe to an existing Twitter list or create your own Twitter list. If you're creating a list, add about 20 people. Begin to engage with these users on the list daily.
4. Become an expert in your industry. People who share their expertise with others (no matter how small the niche) greatly improve the quality of Twitter and become reliable “go to” authorities. Many of these individuals devote their life’s work to a particular topic. Wouldn’t it make sense to follow such passionate champions rather than a star athlete, musician, actor, or a television host? The true potential of Twitter lies with the buzz created by the Average Joe, sharing practical information for the common user.
Action item: Identify two things you are passionate about. Find users on Twitter who have similar passions and begin to engage with them on these topics.
I’ve met some incredible people on Twitter, including CEOs, celebrities, journalists, Syracuse alumni, and marketers, just by networking in fewer than 140 characters at a time. You can start a conversation with anyone on Twitter in many different ways, but the same rule of thumb always applies: be yourself.
What are your tips for networking on Twitter? Share in the comments below or tweet me @ottogrl!