Twitter is an excellent tool for professional development. The social network is a great device for facilitating informal communication with key influencers in your field and developing relationships with potential employers. Here are 11 tips to get you started with your professional twitter account.
1. Judge your ability to stay professional and think about the message you want to send.
Unfortunately, there is not a clear line for what is professional and not professional. The very definition of professional differs between fields. Obviously what is considered acceptable in the entertainment industry is vastly different from what is acceptable in the nonprofit sector. Avoid making negative remarks about people and organizations. Consider how peers and superiors in your field would respond to something before you tweet it.
2. Use a professional profile picture
Just like LinkedIn, do not leave your profile picture blank or use a random icon. People like to see faces.
3. Utilize your Bio.
Think carefully about your bio. Utilize those 160 characters to explain who you are and what sort of conversations you want to have.
4. Think carefully about your name and username: Be findable.
Use your real name or the name that people most commonly call you by, so that people can easily find you. Your username on the other hand does not necessarily have to contain your name, but if you are not going to use your name, make your username relevant to your industry.
5. Don’t protect your tweets.
While many job search sites advise people to protect tweets, it is better to not protect them if your account is truly professional. By keeping your tweets unprotected, people who are not following you can see your tweets, which makes it significantly easier for you to showcase your thoughts and the things you care about to potential employers and colleagues.
Custom backgrounds are always nice and are great for personal branding. They make your page stand out more. Custom backgrounds do not necessarily have to reflect your industry in anyway, but they do need to avoid profanity and somewhat match who you are.
7. Follow lots of people
Following other Twitter users is crucial for building new relationships with people on Twitter. Follow organizations in your industry that interest you, professional contacts, industry influencers, and consultants in your field. Remember that people are FAR more open to following people on twitter than other social networks, so do not be shy about who you follow. Also, when people or organizations follow you, be polite and follow back if they somehow relate to your field or interests.
8. Tweet about things that matter in your field.
Tweet and comment about your sector’s news. Ask thoughtful questions about events occurring in your field. Retweet posts that you find particularly interesting and insightful. Retweeting and replying to other users’ posts is an excellent way to form new relationships and deepen existing ones.
9. Use hashtags.
When composing tweets, use hashtags so that your tweets are searchable and others can more easily find you. They ultimately give you more visibility. Also if you are interested in a particular topic in your field, you can easily find out what others are saying about that topic when searching with hashtags.
10. Make tweets authentic!
Avoid writing in a PR tone. The goal is to be professional, but with a personal voice. Put some thought into those 140 characters! Avoid simply copying and pasting headlines because it makes you seem less personal. Twitter is all about relationship building, so make the most of it by crafting authentic tweets!
11. Keep track of your new professional contacts and manage content
Use an application like Hootsuite to effectively manage your Twitter account. HootSuite enables the simultaneous viewing of lists and searches, so that you can quickly glance at what people are saying rather than individually searching for people or topics.
Good luck building and maintaining your professional twitter account! Remember that there is no right or wrong way to create a professional twitter account and that these are just some guidelines to get you started! Please tweet us or comment below if you have any suggestions to add!
Lauren Kline, Special Initiatives Intern, Foundation Center-Atlanta