How to Make Twitter a Powerful Networking Tool

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In these recessionary times every bit of energy that your company expends needs to transform into valuable results. Twitter has the potential to open the door to dozens, hundreds or thousands of valuable contacts depending on what your company has time to manage. We’ve looked at hundreds of comments from professionals and simplified practices they used that have turned them into power networkers rather than sideline observers on one of the fastest growing social networks on the internet.

Most Of What You Do Offline For Great Networking Will Work On twitter

The easiest way to make progress is to remove the perspective that Twitter is a cryptic community because of its short note communication method. Instead adopt the perspective thousands of successful professionals have taken, ‘twitter is just a simplified means for networking’. What many have achieved is a supercharged system of building new relationships by transferring best practice networking to their online efforts.

Feel free to add your comments at the bottom of this article on what’s worked for you. It’s a great way to make a good impression and meet new contacts.

By following a few professional networking standards and a few twitter cultural norms you could be on your way to turning twitter time into an extensive gold mine of unlimited opportunities.

1)  Dress Your Best – that’s right, image does count. Just as they say people will make their first judgment on who you are and what they expect from you in the first 20 – 60 seconds, twitter is no different. Think of every tweet you make as a reflection of the image you want to convey: you never know who is in the room watching. That image should be consistent with your company’s offline culture and brand’s personality.

2)  Do Your Research On Who You Want To Know – one of the top themes professionals that get results have in common is, they put time into selecting who they want to follow, do their research on past tweets, check out their blog, website, online profiles, other social media profiles and began to interact in a meaningful way. This really is the same approach you would take as best practice when you want to meet another professional offline for the purpose of nurturing a relationship.

3)  Decide On How Much Time A Week – twitter can become a time gobbling monster because of endless fascinating industry updates, gossip, and countless links to resources. Decide exactly how much time you will allocate to this channel and how many people you want to correspond with and stick to the plan. Twitter can tempt you to waste time if you’re not careful.

4)  Break The Ice By Being Personable – Direct Message (DM) a new contact on a particular tweet you found valuable to get their attention. After exchanging a few direct messages, comment on their tweet in public. Some hardcore twitterers take offense to a new contact ‘trying too hard’ and just replying to their tweet in public where their followers can see your response. If the new contact feels offended they won’t hesitate to unfollow and block you. This is no different than offline practices of slowly winning your way into a new crowd and endearing yourself over the long term.

5)  Build Rapport Don’t Over Do It – no one likes someone who comes on too strong, too cocky, too superior, a know it all or too persistent. You may have something great to say but count to ten, take a deep breath, stand-up, walk away from your keyboard, come back and see if something you’re excited about sharing will sound right to others. If you get it wrong you’ll usually notice a number of followers that leave you. Simply be a modest and helpful professional and you’ll win respect, interest, curiosity and the possibility to transform tweets into real relationships.

6)  Be Transparent – you hear this term over and over in social media. If you have an agenda, let that agenda show (keeping in mind all the other tips noted) be obvious through the consistency of your tweets. If you really want sales and new customers, include regular tweets about what you’re doing and what you want from your followers. The fastest way to get black listed is to appear charming and helpful and then turn into a power closer. Find a middle ground.

7)  “You Can’t Take It Back” – never say things you’ll regret or can’t take back. You can undelete a tweet but hundreds or thousands may have seen it before you can. Or worse, search engine tracking or third party twitter applications may have randomly picked that comment and will hold it in their records for weeks as a search result on your twitter profile. These can’t be deleted!

8)  Be A Giver Not A Taker – build a true and endearing relationship by helping others find and get what they want. To turn this into a valuable business relationship, know who you’re creating a new relationship with and why. One of the golden rules of networking is, “pay it forward”. Do keep in mind your boundaries so you don’t spend too much time helping. Give yourself a time budget and stick to it. Change approaches regularly to see what stirs the best response in the new relationship. Do be consistent over the long term, trust is what you’re building and that doesn’t happen over night.

9)  Take A Long Term Perspective – be patient above all else. There are stories of companies that have gained clients within weeks or days. However there are many more that got their results after several months work. If you try too hard too fast you’ll be frustrated. Pace yourself, your time budget, and focus on quality not quantity. Twitter does yield real contacts and business but it takes patience.

10) Advertise You’re On Twitter – prospective customers and contacts may not know you’re on twitter. Put your address on your website, all marketing material, emails contacts, anywhere that makes sense. This is the easiest way to grow your database without killing yourself looking for new contacts all the time. Do check who’s new and following you and work at building personal relationship with your contacts versus looking for new ones. There are reasons why someone would care to take the time to hear what you have to say, find out why over time.

11) Always Mind Your Manners – just like in person, never share personal information you wouldn’t share with a totally brand new acquaintance. Keep in mind, your group will eventually grow whether that means 50, 500 or 5,000 followers. People like people for particular reasons. Good ongoing manners will assure that professionals will be more interested in you, respect your opinion and be willing to open the door for one-on-one discussions if you have a respectable style.

12) Have Goals For Contacts And Conversion – like any sales model there will be a ratio of activity that produces results and a trend emerges over weeks and months. It’s not unusual in offline networking that it’s 1 contact in 20 that becomes a new client (or some other ratio). Pay attention and work the model and the mystique of what twitter can do for your business will disappear as you realize twitter is a great arena for free and unlimited networking.