Attempts to tame the Twitter Wild West abound. Some well-meaning, expert advice is on point while other opinions should be taken with a grain of salt.
The splendor of Twitter is the absolute control you have to read or respond to the words flagging you down for attention. Tools like TweetDeck or HootSuite facilitate organizing your followers into ‘lists’ to ensure you can focus in on those conversations most relevant to your reading and learning needs; they also allow you flexibility to add to — and subtract from — the noise and clutter, instantly.
As a job seeker, or future job seeker, what value can you excavate from the Twitter trenches that will boost your career? Though your inclination initially may be to gain company, human resource, recruiter and collegial contacts as well as resume, job search and interview support, I challenge you to restrain initial impulses to focus solely on your own wants. While your job search and career needs fulfillment is integral in earning a return on investment in your time spent lurking in the Twitter-sphere, the best way to realize that ROI is to deliver value first, and reap your rewards secondarily.
Connecting the Dots
Many folks, including myself, use words like, “engage, converse and connect,” in regard to best Twitter communication practices. What exactly do these verbs mean? How do job-seeking Twitter users translate their words into valuable connections and conversations? What, exactly, are the rules of engagement? How do you craft effective and meaningful Twitter messages?
Quite simply, there are no hard and fast rules. However, I will share a synopsis of behaviors that I consider best engagement practices that have unfolded during my 2+ years of Twitter interaction.
Engaging often involves a simplistic approach; moving beyond that simplicity enriches your value.
- A simple retweet that acknowledges you found value in another’s words and / or informational links is nice and provides a loose engagement with the original user who tweeted the information.
- Customizing your retweet with a comment or a synopsis of the tweet or blog post shows you actually read the information and extends the value of your engagement.
- Tailoring your retweet to illustrate the particular learning or insight takeaway you gleaned from reading their message further sharpens your communication.
- Molding your retweet as well as actually diving into the other person’s blog post and writing a longer-than-140-character, meaningful remark at their site will create an even more indelible impression.
Conversing may simply involve sharing a simple ‘good morning’ or offering a ‘thank you’ for a kind remark or retweet.
- Moving beyond the uncomplicated greeting into more pithy conversation adds value. Extending an invitation into dialogue may even require a bit of courage, especially the first time you aim your words toward another Twitter user.
- One way to spark further engagement may be to use the @Reply feature to directly ask a question, offer a sincere compliment or express an opinion on a particular subject you are quite certain the recipient is interested in.
- Be prepared that, when tendering an invitation to converse, the other user may, or may not, choose to reply. Of course, if they do reply, be pleasant, positive and interactive, but not pushy in furthering the exchange. The Twitter stream is lively, sometimes engaging, often fleeting and always fast-moving. Engagements, therefore, are frequently transitory.
Connecting beyond Twitter via email, Skype or phone (and even in person) is another avenue to breed the Twitter discourse into something bigger.
- When is this done? My suggestion: when your instincts tell you so. Often, if engagement has spurred a reason, personally or professionally to further slide the connecting curtains open, the other party will invite you into their virtual or telephonic home. Or, you will sense when the time is right to invite them.
- Be discretionary, selective and polite. Consider the rules of business and personal diplomacy that you apply in face-to-face conversations applicable here in the somewhat anonymous Twitter sphere. Moreover, though the world has become much flatter, and hierarchies less defined, applying a bit of sincere deference to another person is generally a safe call.
- Never push, always respect boundaries, and proffer your request in a professional, friendly tone that permits the receiver to easily decline or accept your invitation, without discomfort either way.
- Always consider your request: if you are inquiring to simply become further acquainted based on similar values, professional or personal backgrounds and/or interests, then point that out, and request a brief, 15- to 30-minute chat off the Twitter stream. Then, stick to your time-limit promise. Respect and valuing others’ time is vital.
Fundamentals of Twitter Engagement
The fundamentals of proper and effective Twitter engaging, conversing and connecting, therefore, center around longstanding rules of propriety in business communications and relationship building; aka, growing your networking seeds organically. When meeting someone for the first time in the Twitter stream, add your value, and later, offer to share your time and resources beyond the stream, if the other user is amenable.
When you sense the timing and opportunity have coalesced, up your message and ask for their further consideration of possible job search support, networking linkages or information regarding a company or opportunity you are eyeing.
Being a job seeker on Twitter very well can help you to mine leads into companies, as well as build second- and third-degree relationships that lead you to direct leads into the companies you choose. First, however, always think individual relationship, and the value you bring to their table; you will circuitously, with a focus on your specific and unique value, wind your way to the direct path of your target opportunities. It’s a process worth wading through, and, again, it takes time.
In future posts, I will explore how to craft effective and meaningful Twitter messages, how to choose whom to follow as well discuss other tools, resources and tips for careerists and job seekers to add value to, and receive value, by way of Twitter.