Are you utilizing Twitter to help you in your job search? If not, you may be missing a simple and no-cost opportunity to promote yourself and to network with leaders in your industry ...
Twitter is a real-time short messaging service that allows users to read and share messages of 140 characters or less with their contacts. Unlike LinkedIn and Facebook, where requesting connections with someone you don’t know is discouraged, on Twitter it is acceptable. This allows you to connect beyond your contact circle, develop relationships and exchange information.
Additionally, you can follow leaders in your industry such as hiring managers, recruiters and CEOs allowing you the opportunity to network directly with them. Many leaders reveal facts you can use to build your network or find a career, such as industry knowledge, job listings, career tips, or events such as conferences or networking opportunities. Twitter also allows you to brand yourself as an expert in your industry, providing you credibility to future employers.
How do you take advantage of this online networking opportunity? Follow these basic steps to build your career network.
Create an Account
The only way to truly understand Twitter is to jump in and explore the site. To start, visit www.Twitter.com and click on “Sign Up Now.” As you’re building your account, you may skip the step, “See if your friends are on Twitter.” You will be able to search for contacts again once your account is complete. Choose a username that would be appropriate if seen by a recruiter or your industry peers.
Once you’ve created your account, you may click on the “Settings” option at any time to build or revise what potential followers will see on your Twitter page. Before you begin sharing messages, upload a professional photo and complete the “One Line Bio” in 160 characters or less. If you wish, your bio can include the type of position that you are looking for.
If you have a personal Web page or LinkedIn account that tells more about your background, include a link to this site in the “More Info URL” option. Also, complete the “Location” option with the area where you live. You may also change your background by clicking on the “Design” tab. Twitter provides several standard background templates. If you would like to customize this in the future, many free programs are available online to help you.
Tweet, Tweet, Tweet
Once you’ve built your profile, you’re ready to share messages or “tweet.” Yes, it’s true that you don’t have any followers yet to read your messages, but by tweeting several times you will build your page. By having several tweets on your page potential followers will see a preview of the types of topics you will discuss.
To tweet, click on the home tab and complete the “What are you doing?” blank on the top of the page in 140 characters or less, but don’t take the question literally. Including some personal tweets occasionally is acceptable, but if you’re using your account to search for a job or career network, it’s best to tweet about your professional interests and ideas, not what you are having for lunch. Consider including links to articles about your profession, so you begin to look like an expert in this area. Also, feel free to mention occasionally the type of job you are searching for.
The more value you provide to your followers via your tweets, the more followers you will gain. Never post anything that could give others a negative image of you. Even when you think a tweet is long gone, it could still be out there for others to see.
Follow the Leader
Now that your page is set-up, it’s time to search for people that you will “follow.” You can start with your friends, but also look for leaders in your industry or people who work for companies where you would like to work. Don’t be afraid to follow a company’s CEO or hiring manager. This is acceptable and common on Twitter.
To begin exploring contacts, utilize the search option in Twitter. Try searching for people’s names or keywords about the type of industry that you would like to work in, for example, “accounting” or “accounting Orlando.” If you see someone who interests you, click on the link to their profile and then click on “Follow.”
After several months you will find that many of the people you are following will then follow you in return and your network will grow. Don’t rush this process though or expect that everyone you follow will become your follower.
Once you begin following several contacts, participate in the conversation. Reply to questions, give feedback and introduce yourself. Also, it is customary on Twitter to “retweet” others’ messages. When you “retweet” you send someone else’s message that you think is valuable to your followers. This helps messages to spread throughout Twitter and will help you to build a relationship with the sender.
As you participate in conversations and “retweet,” utilize the following codes, which are standard across Twitter.
- @username – This is the standard way to refer to a person on Twitter. If you want to message a person, simply use the “@” sign before their username, for example @workforcenews. Remember that whatever you send will be seen by all of your followers.
- D username – If you prefer to send a message to one person only, direct message him or her by placing a “D” and a space before their username, for example D workforcenews.
- RT @username – If you want to retweet a message, place the code RT @username before the entire message you will resend, for example RT @workforcenews.
If this all looks overwhelming, don’t let it scare you. The more you use the site, the more it will make sense, and you will be on your way to building your network. If you provide valuable information through your tweets, your network will grow.
For information on Twitter contacts who post regular job leads, watch your inbox next month for the October issue of “Workforce Insider.”