How to work 140 characters…
Twitter has served as a fantastic platform for me to push my growing business. There, I have found contacts, funding, partnerships, hired people I’ve never met and exposed my online store to the majority of our customers.
Like most good things, Twitter can also be used negatively. It can be a distraction, taking you off task and wasting your time with social interactions that will not prove useful to your work.
Here’s a quick guide to making sure you’re using it for your entrepreneurial benefit:
1. Join your group
There are endless, organically formed circles on twitter, with leaders, hot topics, weekly chats and hashtags relevant to each. Your “circle” is a network of people connected one way or another to the interests of your entrepreneurial endeavors and the issues, topics and professional networks surrounding them. There, you’ll find relevant material and conversations, collaborative opportunities and consumers interested in your services or product.
If you’re going to become relevant to the group you fit into then you have to join the conversation, and this involves more than just talking about your product on twitter. Its means offering something of value.
2. Offer something of value
To have people interested in your company’s social media you should offer them something that is valuable to them. Something of value can be pleasing to the senses: unique photos or graphics that are aesthetically pleasing and enjoyable to look at. Something of value can also be intellectually stimulating: information, articles or other educational material relevant to your audience. At my brand we both share beautiful images of Uganda and African fashion, and educate our audience about the continent in a positive way.
3. Gather data on how to interact
One of the best ways to find who your best contacts are is to watch their interactions. Is someone generally responsive? What kind of information are they regularly posting? Are they a potential customer, collaboration or resource? Just as important is knowing if you have anything to offer to them. Gauging both what they can gain from you and what you can gain from them will help you know what angle to approach them from.
4. Collaborate with people you may never meet
In the past year alone I’ve gained three regular freelance jobs, a column, raised around 4480 € (around $6,000 USD) in startup funding, hired a manager and a photographer and found sources and resources for several in-depth series on issues in Sub Saharan Africa.
I have not met any of these men and women in person. I’ve interacted with them on twitter, and then moved our interaction to email, Google hangouts or Skype. I can’t emphasize enough that twitter is a wealth of resources and opportunities.
5. Go IRL (In Real Life)
One of my favorite parts of discovering sources and opportunities online is the opportunity to take them off the internet. Ask people to go for a coffee or get drinks. Invite them to parties, go to their meet ups! You’ll be surprised how many of your twitter friends become your real life friends in a short amount of time.