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How I use Twitter for my career and you can, too: Listen as much as you talk

September 21, 2009

This series is based on my real-life experience trying to use Twitter to help write my own career story. Twitter was a little intimidating and confusing for me at first, so I’m recounting my successes and failures in advice form to help other people like me who are ready to quit being passive and unhappy with the direction other people are taking their career. In this new career climate, I’m learning I can make things happen myself.

Previously: How I use Twitter for my career and you can, too: Beginning at the very beginning

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After setting up my Twitter account and organizing my TweetDeck columns, I considered the best way to establish myself as a member of this Twitter community I chose.

What to tweet when no one’s listening

If you’ve taken the “follow first, tweet second” approach like I did, you might have some followers before you even tweet anything. That might make you feel good, but I learned that if they don’t already know you, they’re not listening yet. So…

  • Don’t worry if you make some tweeting mistakes. My first tweet was something about my unemployment (because I was following job-search experts). Riveting, right? Who wouldn’t want to chat up someone who intends to talk about her unemployment?
  • Don’t be afraid to delete a tweet. I ended up deleting that tweet a few days later because my career coach suggested I use Twitter to move forward, not look back. I don’t hide my employment status on Twitter, but I’ve gone over it enough on this blog.
  • If you want to lay some groundwork, tweet about your blog (if you have one that’s relevant and professional). I didn’t waste any time promoting my blog, even if no one listened.
    How I did it: “I started a blog right after being laid off to keep me thinking during unemployment.
    “New blog post about returning to Twitter:

What to tweet to get people to listen

No matter how long you tweet about yourself or your thoughts, you’re not going to be on anyone’s radar until you let people know you’re listening to them. No point in wasting time; I started doing this on my second day.

  • The easy way: retweet. You don’t have to wait for someone to post something mind-blowing; if it fits your situation, if you identify with it, if you agree with it, if it makes you laugh, if it makes you think anything, retweet it. Just click the icon on TweetDeck and publish. You don’t even have to type why you’re retweeting it!
    How I did it: “RT @jasonalba: Finding Target/Growing Companies –
    “People being too picky about jobs? Thought opposite was true. RT @cluewagon An Application is Not a Marriage Proposal
  • The flattery way: Mention someone. Flattery pays off on Twitter.
    How I did it: “Searching @willyf‘s One Day One Job for possible employers in my state. Useful information even if you’re not entry-level.”
  • The thoughtful way: Put yourself right in front of a person — reply directly to tweets or initiate your own conversation. If you’re following a particularly important or high-profile person you really want to notice you, ask a question, whether in reply to something the person tweeted or just one you have on your own. This has proven an excellent way of drawing attention to myself. And it’s an exciting feeling to snag a big follow just by being myself!
    How I did it: “@jasonalba I wouldn’t count on it. Costco does not generally participate in the retailification of holidays.”
    “@lagpsu Does “hand-delivered” include internal e-mail? I can’t always ask a contact to take time out of a busy day to walk my #resume to HR.”

Next time: I knew my efforts were paying off when my tweet was retweeted!

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