How to Build a Virtual Network on Twitter

By Carissa Deutscher, Community Catalyst, INGATHER & CWCC Member

The best way to think of Twitter is to compare it to a virtual networking event. It’s a place people come to with the idea of meeting new friends, potential customers, and gaining new relationships that matter.

If you are ready to start establishing yourself or your business on Twitter, here’s my advice to you:

  • Set Up Your Profile Page

Now that you are on Twitter, set up your personal page so people know who you are and you are easily identifiable. Make sure you chose an appropriate name (otherwise known as a Handle) for your account; Ingather’s (the business I tweet for) is @Ingather. Twitter allows for much creativity on this page and you have the ability to make it look similar to your website, logo, brand, etc. Be sure to include your website address, a professional photo of your company or your logo, and your location. You also have 160 characters to write a bio of you or your company. Your profile page is very similar to your business card.

  • Follow & Be Followed

Twitter is unlike other networking sites because it is not a mutual relationship where both parties agree to be “friends.” You can follow anyone and anyone can follow you. First you’ll want to check if any one you know is here and connect with them by uploading your emails’ address books. Twitter will suggest people who you might like and also has a browse category where you can find “tweeters” of interest to you. Most importantly, connect with like-minded people!

  • Twitter Etiquette Rule #1 – Follow Back!

On both my personal account and business account, I follow those who follow me. More specifically, on my business Twitter account I only connect to people who live in Colorado as this are the market for our business. I also take the time to un-follow anyone who is not following me. It is similar to swapping business cards at a networking event – If you give me yours, I’ll give you mine.

  • Twitter Etiquette Rule #2 – Have Manners!

Being polite is the easiest goal to accomplish and hopefully it already comes natural to you. Be professional at all times just like you would at a networking event. Twitter is not a place for offensive words or actions.  They could cost you your reputation, job or maybe worse. Understand Twitter is public and so are your tweets. Don’t cuss. Say please and thank you. I recommend thanking new followers and people who re-tweet.

  • Now Tweet

Your first few tweets may seem awkward.  My advice – just do it. The more you tweet the more your natural voice will come out and you’ll feel more relaxed as you go. But make sure your tweets have variety in them and are engaging. Talk about what you are in to; ask questions you need answers to; share links to interesting websites or articles, photos and videos; solicit feedback on your products/services; and retweet what others are saying. Retweeting is simply sharing someone else’s post, and often times it gets you more followers. Above all, don’t always talk about yourself or your business. It’s truly the fastest way to lose your followers. Think about the last networking event you attended; remember that person who wouldn’t stop talking about himself? You don’t want to be “that guy?”

  • Conversations in Real Time

With social media your customers, or potential customers, now have the ability to say anything they want about you, and instantly it can reach mass amounts of people. It is up to you to respond and clarify any confusion, especially if it is negative, towards you or your business. Not responding could be more detrimental than the original post itself. Above all, have humility. People gravitate towards those who can admit to making a mistake rather than giving an excuse or not recognizing the problem at all. If you are the social media manager for your business set up push notifications.  With push notifications, if someone tweets about you or your company during off hours, you can respond immediately. It’s about providing top-notch customer service 24/7!

For great tips on what NOT to do, check out this great article on social media blunders.

  • Don’t Give Up

The most important advice I give to new “tweeps” is that the more you use Twitter the more you will get out of it. It takes time to understand the network and to build your followers; it won’t happen overnight. Importantly, don’t set up an account and then not use it. This is another instance when it could be more damaging than not having an account at all as it points out your reliability, consistency, and initiative, or lack there of.

When I first joined Twitter as a business, I didn’t get it. I decided to create my own personal account, immerse myself and then figure out how to use it as a business. Twitter has now become an integral part of my personal and business life.  Look for me on twitter at @Ingather & @DenverDeutsch.

INGATHER Research is a full service marketing research facility located in Lakewood, Colorado; the first in North America to take a residential home and turn it into a research reality house. Fully equipped with cameras & microphones throughout the home so companies can conduct research in a natural, more comfortable environment, including top-of-line kitchen and appliances, theatre viewing, full wet bar, fitness room, outside viewing, hot tubs, swimming pool, and home-cooked food! We pay people to participate in paid focus groups, taste tests, in-home product tests, shop-a-longs, and more! Visit our website for more information and to register to get paid cash for your opinions:  Connect with INGATHER on Twitter (@Ingather) and on Facebook (Ingather Research).

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