Just stick your toe in the twitter water

I took a little field trip a couple weeks ago and attended the Hartford Business Journal‘s E-Technology Summit in South Windsor. The hot topic of the day was, not surprisingly, social media.  It’s hard for some business folks to wrap their heads around how “tweeting” and “friending” will help their business grow.

I kept hearing  “How do I  integrate it (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn)  into my business and how exactly can I  use it to improve my business’ bottom line?”

I’m still a novice when it comes to integrating “social media” into my business but really Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn ( to name a few) are just communication tools.  They are tools that expand the reach or your network.

Most of us know how to network. You listen. You talk. You find out what other people do. You tell people what you do. You see if there is a connection. You try to find people you can use as a resource. You see if you can be a resource to the people you meet. You make new  friends. You tell your new friends about other friends who they might find interesting.

In the process of networking, you find business–via referrals, collaboration or strategic alliances.  And you learn stuff–stuff that makes you more marketable.  This all adds to your bottom line.

The new tools don’t change the concept of networking.  But they do expand your network.  Now instead of  your business network being limited to Hartford,  or to your region, you can make friends all over the world.  Isn’t that a cool concept?

So, I made a new friend at the E-Technology Summit and she came by my office to have a chat yesterday.  She’s a writer, I’m a web designer, so there’s opportunity for collaboration.  We talked about the kind of clients we have and the kinds of things we’ve done and are doing.

I mentioned that with the popularity of blogging, there might be great opportunities for writers these days.  I brought up the post one of my tweeple (a Twitter contact) made recently about a winery in California that was looking for a writer to blog about wine and food.  They were offering a 6-month contract at $10,000 a month.  That’s not bad green for eating, drinking and writing.

I saw the light go on in her head.  But although she recognized that opportunities were out there in “twitterland” she was still kind of hesitant about the technology.  She said she’s been to workshops about social media and they all tell you to “just jump in”.  She pointed out that if she were the type of person to “just jump in” she probably wouldn’t be at the workshop.

Point well taken.  I didn’t tell her to jump in.

But I did tell her what I did.  As I said earlier, I’m a novice, so there are many people who are far more knowledgeable about this than I am.  But for all you newbies out there who are afraid to  “jump in”  here’s how to stick your toe in the “twitter water”.

  1. Sign up at twitter.com
  2. You don’t have to answer the question “what are you doing now”  (if everyone answered that question honestly there would be a lot of  “I just signed up for Twitter and I’m wondering what to do now”)
  3. Use twitter search  to find posts about topics you’re interested in.  I might have originally done a few searches, probably for  SEO, web design, and Google Android.
  4. Look through the search results and click on some interesting posts.   See an interesting post? Click on the poster’s link – read their other posts.  If they seem interesting, click the “Follow” button.  Now all the posts that person makes will show up on your screen when you’re logged in.
  5. The person you “Follow” will get a message and may decide to “Follow” you.  You’ve now got your first “follower”.

That’s it.  I’m going to stop there.  That’s how to stick your toe in the “twitter water”.

Next week I’ll talk about some of my favorite Twitter tools such as  TwitterFeed, Twirl, TweetDeck.


Can LinkedIn Build Your Business?

Right up front I will admit that this article will not answer the question the title poses. But you will learn more about this business networking Web site if you keep reading.

I’ve been on LinkedIn for about 15 months but had not been very active. For the next six months I’m conducting an experiment. I want to discover whether feeding LinkedIn lots of attention and good stuff will reward me with what I want (more and better business contacts and visibility.) I believe it’s possible that LinkedIn could help me find vendors, keep up with business education, promote my business and maybe even provide some solid clients.

If you’re interested in this concept, here are eight steps you could take.

  1. Spruce up your LinkedIn profile
    I heard one guy complain that LinkedIn only considered him 40 percent of a person. That’s because his profile wasn’t complete. You won’t be taken seriously if you don’t include a professional photograph and complete the rest of the profile. Your profile should have lots of juicy tidbits about your business talents and successes.
  2. Give and get recommendations
    Ask your clients to recommend your services on LinkedIn. Their recommendations will appear in your profile and serve as great endorsements. How do you get recommendations? You get by giving. Recommend good, solid people you’ve worked with. It’s fun and rewarding to recommend good people.
  3. Obtain at least 100 connections
    I’m told the magic starts happening when you are connected to at least 100 people. So go through your rolodex and invite people to link with you. Visit the profiles of people you’re already linked to and check out their connections to see if they know people you’d like to know. Then ask for a LinkedIn introduction to them.
  4. Ask Questions
    I had a client problem and used the LinkedIn question feature. Within two hours I had four good answers to my client problem.
  5. Don’t Sell
    Perhaps this should be number one on this list. There’s nothing worse at a cocktail party than the guy running around basically saying to anyone who will listen, “Wanna buy from me? Wanna buy from me?” Please don’t use LinkedIn that way. Find ways to make yourself useful to others. It’s true: Givers gain.
  6. Join Groups
    To learn about a topic or get closer (electronically) to a market, search for LinkedIn groups you can join.
  7. Find People
    LinkedIn has a feature that lets you search for people by name. You can also search by company name for LinkedIn members. And you can search by job title within a geographic area. These are good ways to find people in your market or people you know but have misplaced along the business way.
  8. Add Applications
    You can choose from about ten pretty cool applications. One app lets you share slide shows. Another lets you take online polls. I have added to my profile the application that lets you share book recommendations.

Your best bet is to go to LinkedIn and experiment. See whether you think there are tools there to help your business. Give the site a fair chance by putting in your time to create a good profile and build connections. I heard one LinkedIn expert say you need to devote about 30 minutes a day to the site when you first join if you want to maximize the site’s effectiveness. Try to add value for other people you run into on LinkedIn.

May your business prosper as a result. See you out there.

Submitted by:

Chris John Amorosino
Amorosino Writing, LLC
Writing Business Stories That Live Profitably Ever After