I was a Twitter-sceptic. It’s for youngsters. It’s not for business. However, I’m now a convert and a strong advocate of LinkedIn and Twitter.
Why and how typical are my experiences?
Visibility and profile
I first switched on to the idea of LinkedIn as I approached retirement as a partner at PwC and began planning my consultancy business. For me it was about somewhere to create and store my book of clients, chums and contacts. LinkedIn provides this service very effectively for free. As I discovered, it also gives me access to view and connect with my connections’ connections.
That visibility is vital when growing a business. More connections mean more visibility to my network and more business opportunities. And the benefit grows the more you use LinkedIn. It keeps me front of mind when a client or contact needs help or a service I provide.
It is also a very effective way to find service providers to support my business. For example, I rediscovered former colleague Barry Gilbertson who has helped me create this website and develop my business proposition.
Alan also introduced me to social media guru Barry Gilbertson, who taught me a very valuable lesson: Twitter may have been created for social networking and LinkedIn for its business networking, but they overlap and continue to evolve.
It is good to feel part of that evolution. I now gain a lot from condensing my thoughts on property markets and much else besides into 140 characters. It’s a great way to share my insight and find other people’s.
I started slowly, following other people whom I thought might be interesting − from economists to politicians, journalists, Fulham FC fans, friends and colleagues and the occasional celebrity − and crafting the odd tweet of my own. Amazingly people started following me and reading and responding to my tweets.
Some three months later, I have tweeted nearly 700 times, follow about 160 people (some tweet several times a day and some hardly ever) and nearly 300 people are following me. My followers grow every day often because someone retweets one of my tweets, sending my thoughts out to all their followers and one of them may decide to follow me.
Twitter tools improve my efficiency
Hashtags (the # key) are incredibly useful, briefly describing a topic so others can find everything on that topic, such as #highstreet or #ffc (Fulham FC). #in sends tweets to my LinkedIn account so my 700+ contacts can also see them if they choose. Added together, that is almost 1,000 people who want to be connected to me or read what I have to tweet. So no pressure.
But there are pros and cons of connecting LinkedIn and Twitter in this way. Using the #in means I get to choose which tweets appear on LinkedIn rather than sending all tweets out on both platforms. However, it is more time consuming and uses precious characters.
What do you think – is this selectivity necessary or worth the effort?
There are lots of other tricks too. For instance, using a website like www.bitly.com to shorten links, ensuring that the tweeter can refer their followers to a chosen website, article, photo or video without using up characters. Bitly also analyses the response to links which helps me craft better and more relevant tweets.
Business v personal
It is also true that apparently ‘personal’ or ‘social’ tweets can help my business too – contrary to my expectations. When other people’s interests coincide with mine, there exists the possibility to meet up or simply explore further as a way of widening my business network. What do you think about the relevance of personal tweets?
An eye on the world
Whilst all this stuff may be interesting and perhaps baffling for non-tweeters, by far the most important thing has been its effect on my assimilation and dissemination of knowledge and news. By following a range of people, news gets to me fast, whether about the economy, real estate or Fulham FC. I find I read more articles more carefully (rather than just scan the headlines) and seem to absorb more knowledge. By forcing me to reduce my musings to 140 characters or less, more of that knowledge sticks and I can chat about it to clients and contacts with confidence.
Whether I am simply a tweeter, or may possibly be considered one of the Twitterati (I have made it into Property Week’s Top 100), it is certain that I feel more networked, more connected and ultimately more LinkedIn.
I’m still learning. So what other tools do you suggest I try using to support my efforts and why? Do let me know in the comments section below or find me on Twitter @barrygilbertson.com