140 Characters That Will Change Your Career

Tweeting is fast becoming a brilliant, fast-paced way to build a strong online presence. Here’s some insider pointers on tweeting right and making the most of your online time.

In January 20, 2012, the Prime Minister of Nepal, Baburam Bhattarai, published his first tweet under the user name @brb_Laldhowj. By February 20, he had tweeted 86 times, followed 25 people, and had 17,428 followers. Fellow politician Sarita Giri is an active and engaged tweeter (2,252 tweets) with a little over 2,600 followers. Gagan Thapa, an occasional tweeter (86 tweets since November 2009) has a substantial following of more than 6,800 and generates a lot of immediate responses when he does tweet.

While it is still an exception for a Nepali politician to be on Twitter, and will surely remain so for some time to come, Nepalis have certainly come a long way since their Hi5 days. Nepalis on Twitter is now a fast growing demography, a trend that has rightfully picked up amongst Nepali professionals too. In the last year alone media professionals have become a significant presence on Twitter, which is hardly a surprise and at this point more of a necessity. Another trend that has picked up: anonymous twitter accounts based on Nepali things like cities (@kathmanducity, tweets news and other alerts and updates related to the city), landmarks (@ghantaghar, tweets the time), and simply good news (@goodnewsnepal).

So, how can aspiring and working professionals in Nepal make the most of such a social media to help them in their careers? First, let’s make it clear that a personal account can very well reap professional benefits too. But what do you tweet about? Well, what interests you? Or what do you want to share with the virtual world? A photographer may chose to use the platform to post his photos (but do read the copyright Terms & Conditions and discussions surrounding them first). Someone with a keen sense and interest in banking, for example, could regularly post tweets related to the banking sector in Nepal. Adding insight or analysis would bring greater value to your tweets, and naturally more followers from those interested in similar issues. If you are a business owner or a service provider of any kind, it’s a great outreach tool naturally.

Remember, there are millions of Twitter users the world over and there is no shortage of interesting tweets in the world. What is your niche? How can you stand out, or perhaps, what can you stand out about? Essentially, it is important to try and be consistent about the topics on which you tweet. Perhaps you are interested in an issue (human rights, development, environment, politics), or have a passion (cars, cooking). Whatever it is, the important thing is to not be too random.

There are a few other things worth considering not being. So before a list of what to be, here are a few what-not-to-bes:

  • Don’t be an egghead: You have decided to be on Twitter, but if you still don’t want to put a profile picture of yourself at least pick a picture of something that may be related to your interests. It’s better than being the ‘egg’ in someone’s follower’s list. Having said that, you many also not want to keep something ridiculous or absurd as your profile picture. You don’t want the value of your 140 characters judged on your choice of a profile picture.
  • Don’t be cocky, and arrogant. Keep in mind that these are traits that generally turn people off during in-person socializing, so there is a slim chance people are looking for smart-asses on Twitter. This, at best, seems to work for people who may already be famous for reasons good or bad or for no reason at all.
  • Also, apart from the fact that racist, sexist, and generally politically incorrect opinions are outdated and unacceptable, expressing them on Twitter could also brew professional trouble. Even more so if you already happen to have a professional affiliation. Sure, “tweets are personal,” but how many work places today endorse their employees’ sexist or racist behavior?
  • So, what are a few things worth doing to build a stronger Twitter presence with possible professional benefits? First, be patient. It takes time to earn followers on Twitter unless you are already an established public figure.
  • Second, it also does take time to articulate everything you want to in 140 characters. Especially if you also have a link or a photo to share at the end. This, like many Twitter ethics and lingo, is something that only gets better as you spend more time tweeting and reading tweets.
  • Subscribe: when you sign up, Twitter helpfully asks whom you want to start following and gives you a host of options. This is a great way to not just learn how professionals and professional institutions are tweeting, but an excellent way to know what is happening in the areas of your interest.
  • Make sure your account is not ‘private,’ as that would defeat the purpose of having it as your public private/professional persona. Also, no time on Twitter to be “approved” to be a ‘follower’ of a stranger. Most people with this option are personal tweeters who want greater control over who sees their tweets.
  • Also, sometimes people unknowingly disable the ReTweet function in their account even if the account is public. Being retweeted is key to a growing presence. Make sure that feature is enabled.
  • Quote Tweet when you can, and Retweet others conservatively. You don’t want your account to be full of tweets of other people that others could just follow by themselves and get it from them directly. What is your input?
  • Reach Out: Twitter can be surprisingly intimate. So keep in mind that it can be a great way to network too.
  • As you begin to tweet and get followers and RTs, it may be worth trying to see what got you the most attention, and if that is what you want to build upon. Also note the hours during which your tweets seem to get the most response and if a pattern of that nature emerges. Then it may well be worth your time to tweet more during those hours.
  • Keep in mind that Twitter is exceptionally challenging to get followers on because it moves really fast, and is limited to only 140characters at a time.

Also worth remembering is that Googling your name will most likely bring up your Twitter account right around the top results if you already don’t have a significant online presence (blogs, published works, Facebook, LinkedIn). So this could very well be your prime online persona. When someone scrolls through your tweets, what impression of you will that person, or a potential employer, get of you? To put it in less than 140 characters: An articulate individual or professional who knows their stuff and sparks interest to follow, or consider inviting for a job interview.

Twitter Vs. Jitter

The name of world’s most famous microblogging site came right out of a Hat. The idea of Twitter was budded in a small San Francisco based podcasting startup Odeo. A small group of employees was having a brainstorming session in which they were trying to come up with names that fit the theme of a mobile phone buzzing in your pocket, when it receives an update. The options they came up with included Jitter and Twitter. The employees wrote the options down, put them in a hat and left the rest to fate. Amazingly, fate decided “Twitter” to be the name of what had became one of world’s most influential social networks.(www.siliconindia.com)

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