As business owners, we know the value of networking. Expanding our ability to network using online social media opens us up to a larger world of possibilities. The time is right to add Twitter to your networking mix and gain valuable connections and relationships. A colleague of mine got a client because the person that needed her services searched Twitter for people who could provide it.
As Chelsea Moser advises in her post on Twitter and Promoting Your Business, be selective with who you follow. This is not a popularity contest. Following people just to raise your numbers is analogous to handing out business cards to everyone you meet at an event.
If someone follows you, you don’t necessarily have to follow them back unless you are truly interested in them. Look at their profile. If they have followed Jason Baer’s advice on the 7 Ingredients in the Perfect Twitter Profile and what you see appeals to you, then follow them back. Here are the things I look at when deciding:
- Are they real? Do they use a real name and picture or are they hiding behind some cutsie name and fake avatar? The value of social networks is in the folks you meet. Plus I’m suspicious of those who fake it as they must have something to hide.
- The ratio of followers vs. the number they follow – if they are following thousands and have a much smaller number of followers, I don’t immediately follow them back.
- Their profile description – your first impression is key to people wanting to follow you. If your profile says (this one’s real) “internet marketing s my thing am basicallraking millions per year with it and you might wanna consider joining the game”, I feel like I need a shower. I’m here to learn and build relationships with people. I enjoy getting to know people via social networking and then meeting them in person.
- Their updates – how many, how often and the content. If every update is a URL linking to something, that’s not a good sign. There’s no conversation going on, just a sales pitch. Or if they are following many people but have very few updates, I’m not sure what they are getting from Twitter so I’ll keep an eye on them. By all means, if they are new to Twitter, help them out, follow them and get them into the conversation.
How to Behave
Just as you would be guided by your first impressions when you meet someone at a live networking event, use that same instinct when you meet someone on Twitter. Don’t immediately start selling. I’ve experienced the automatic direct message (DM) with a link selling me something that Chelsea also doesn’t appreciate. Those that have done that are on my watch list of those that I will unfollow quickly if they continue to sell. This is not how you build relationships.
Talk to people, relate to them, get to know them through their thoughts and words. Learn from them and you will build relationships that will be valuable to you in the future.
How to Keep Track of it All
I’ve been using TweetDeck as my interface to Twitter recently. What I like about it is its simplicity and its visual layout. By hovering over someone’s image, you can reply, retweet, direct message and favorite a tweet. You can also split the main feed (All Tweets) into topic or group specific columns to make it easy to follow various threads. The default columns can contain All Tweets from your timeline, @replies directed to you and direct messages and you can define your own based on groups or searchs. Visit their site for more explanation and some screenshots of the interface.
For more Twitter tools, read Twitter Tools for Community and Communications Professionals by Brian Solis.