“Do you know what my favorite part of the game is? The opportunity to play.”
~ Mike Singletary

I started using Twitter so I can advise my clients about it. At first I thought it was a dumb waste of time and thought I was being overly zealous in my need to learn new things. But as I’ve eased into using Twitter, I can say that I have seen some benefits. Not only have I found some interesting people to follow, I find it an interesting way to learn about current events and keep up-to-date with friends.

Here are some rules to help you make a successful foyer into the world of the 140-word tweet:

Watch Before Leaping
It’s a good idea to watch the playing field before sending out a slew of tweets. While it’s not complex, it does have its own culture with specific nomenclature and etiquette. By observing before plunging, you’ll make your initial tweets have more impact.

Give Instead of Take
Twitter is about community. What makes a community? It’s a support system where people share with and help each other. Don’t be all about yourself and your business. It’s great that you want to spread the word, but if that’s all you do, you will be seen as a selfish member of the community. Find a way to offer information. I read a lot of blogs on improving websites, so I often tweet about interesting articles that might be helpful to others. What niche information do you come across regularly that may be helpful to others?

Wait Your Turn
You cannot come to Twitter and in a week, or even a month, expect to have a large following that improves your business. Social networking takes time, and you must exercise patience as your network evolves and grows. It’s important to focus on actions that will make your following grow organically, rather than focus on how big it has gotten.

Be a Team Player
You can develop relationships on Twitter, if you focus on doing so. People post about their personal lives, and you can reply in ways that are meaningful and supportive. What’s important is that your response is genuine, not just words to log another tweet. For example, recently there I followed a stream of tweets by a guy who was having network issues. Over a couple days he talked about it, and while I had no technical knowledge to help, one morning I just wrote him a tweet telling him I hope today was the day he fixed it. I really empathized with his struggle, and his reply to my tweet showed that he appreciated the support.

Don’t Hog the Ball
It’s great to have a lot to say, but Twitter is not the place to say it all. Don’t send out massive numbers of tweets just to be heard. Recently somebody followed me on Twitter, so I opted to follow him back. Then I went to my home page and saw ALL the tweets on the page were from him, and half the second page as well, and they were basically personal commentary on his moves in the past half hour. I don’t want to read 30 stream of consciousness tweets from the same person. Boring! Use your discretion in how much you tweet, and remember, make it meaningful.

Give Encouraging Pats on the Back
It feels good when somebody re-tweets your comment or replies to you, so remember to do it to others. People are genuinely looking for a give-and-take on Twitter, so don’t be afraid to give when it’s right. Re-tweeting helpful blurbs, or thanking others for their feedback, are excellent ways to give social recognition to the people you follow. I occasionally do a tweet where I just say: I love reading your tweets:

. This may encourage others to follow them too, which means you’re a nice person for recommending them.

Don’t Forget to Pass the Ball!
This one really cracks me up. Don’t sign up for Twitter, do nothing, and expect something. Remember, you have to use it to get a result. If you don’t engage, it won’t be ringing your doorbell.

Done the right way, you can generate a following of individuals who look forward to hearing your tweets and you can gain a lot of information from them. And once you’ve established this crowd, the occasional self-promotion will have an impact on the bottom line.

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Ralph White
Business Coach, Author, Artist & CEO
310.372.8538 | Ralph@Consulting2Win.com
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