Twitter is all about making meaningful connections and why shouldn’t some of those connections be new work ones. Using Twitter to find work is something I’ve been very successful with and since I’ve already shared in previous posts how to use Facebook and LinkedIn, I figured Twitter was the next one to cover. There isn’t one correct way to use social media, these are just a few ways I’ve made it work for me.
First when you sign up make sure you use your real name, first and last, this is what will show up on your profile box. Then be sure to choose a Twitter handle that says who you are and the best way to do that is by making it your first and last name. It’s simple and allows people to instantly know your name when they see you in the real world. This is something I didn’t do when I first joined and at this point it’s really not in my best interest to change it. I’m known on many design and video web forums and other sites as beerad, so it’s easy to find me across multiple networks. Next is to think about your photo. Just like on all other social media networks this is the first thing people will see of you. Adding a professional looking avatar or something with your face visible is the best way to go; you want people to clearly be able to recognize you offline if they run into you. Mine, which could use an update, is a close up of me holding a beer in my hand. It may not seem very professional but since I co-host a video beer podcast it works out well for my purposes. The next step is to find users to follow. This is one of the first issues that a lot of people have when they sign up or think about before they sign up. Who to follow? To begin with, follow your real life friends. Twitter offers the option to search your address book to see who is on twitter. Next see who it is that they follow and then see who those people follow. But as I mentioned before don’t just start adding a ton of random people, instead start more slowly and look for quality, not quantity. Choose to follow those whose content matters to you and who you think would benefit from yours. Once you’re following a few people and hopefully they are following you back you need to choose a Twitter tool that will suit you. Using just Twitter.com is inefficient if you are going to use Twitter to it full capacity. I recommend either a desktop or mobile app like Sprout Social, Hoot Suite, TweetDeck or Seesmic. Now you’re ready to tweet and begin finding those hundreds of jobs that get posted everyday.
To start off with, begin by engaging with the people you follow, ask questions, share your knowledge and post interesting links. Tweeting about your field of work shows knowledge and expertise. While the details of your workday may be mundane to anyone outside your line of work, they can be of great interest to your clients if they’re interested in following along with the project (and if you’re willing to give them your user name to follow). Also by reading your tweets that show off your expertise, other people will begin to find you and follow you. Get your voice out there and share what you know, this doesn’t take any secret Twitter knowledge. Just think of it as talking with people you “know” online. But don’t just talk at your followers, talk with them, remember building connections isn’t a one way street.
Sure your friends may know of potential jobs and getting a hook up straight from them is great but there are a ton of job requests happening that you can be monitoring at any given moment. My favorite feature for finding new clients is to use the Twitter search. Here’s a Twitter search for #motiongraphics & #webdesign which returns the most recent tweets including those hashtags! People posting jobs will more than likely use the hashtag feature in Twitter. This is more effective than not using hashtags, due to the signal to noise ratio. For example a hashtag tweet of #motiongrphics, is going to stand out more than just someone tweeting something like, I love motiongraphics. Using the hashtags help to improve visibility. I’ve be able to find a dozen people looking for #motiongraphics help this way and I’ve also been able to find new, interesting and creative people to follow this way as well. If you are using one of the Twitter clients I mentioned, you are able to save your searches to quickly access and monitor them. Another great feature for monitoring potential new employers is by building a Twitter List. Follow and add the companies you are interested in working for and the people who work at these companies; there is a good chance one of them could ask for help on an upcoming project. With the power of Twitter you can be right there instantly to offer your skills. Even if they don’t choose you for the job, you were able to potentially start a conversation. Don’t be afraid to join in conversations happening on Twitter, since it’s only 140 characters it’s easy to chime in with a quick tidbit.
Now that you’re involved and engaging 140 characters at a time, make sure you get your name out there. Get yourself listed on sites such as WeFollow and Twellow. These will place your twitter page in categories and give you another way to be found. Also put your Twitter ID on everything so you are easily accessible. For example: link to your account through Facebook, LinkedIn, Email signature and put it on your business card as well.
More then Facebook and LinkedIn, Twitter takes time. You need to use the service to figure out what works for you and how to best showcase your experience. Be yourself to be genuine. Let your skills shine through naturally. But remember Twitter isn’t something you can just check once a week and expect to know what is happening. It doesn’t stop just because you are not there. You have to keep up, other wise you can miss out on that dream job.