Networking on Twitter: Building a Professional Presence in 140 Characters

Career Blog

Published: April 13, 2018 by Evelyn Hudson

If you have a Twitter account, you probably use it like most people: live-tweeting the season premiere of your favorite TV show or sharing your opinion about the new restaurant in town. While this is a diverting activity, Twitter can also be really useful for networking and professional development—when used properly.

As someone who uses Twitter regularly to interact with librarians around the world, I can say with certainty that this social media platform can do so much more than update you on the minutia of your friend’s day. So, how can you use Twitter to network and build your professional contacts? Here are my tips for making the most out of Twitter.

  1. Create a public account. It is possible that you have a personal Twitter account where you share opinions and potentially unprofessional content. Rather than making this account public, create a new account that is only for networking. Tip: If your account isn’t already private and you post anything you don’t want an employer to see, make it private now.
  2. Choose a good handle. Create a handle that shows who you are right away. For example, mine is @librarianevelyn. Anyone following me knows that I am a librarian and can safely assume my tweets will focus on related topics. Tip: There are millions of people on Twitter, so have several handles in mind in case you don’t get your first pick.
  3. Start following leaders in the field. Follow accounts of major organizations such as the American Library Association (@ALALibrary), magazines such as Library Journal (@LibraryJournal), your local public library, book publishers, professors, fellow graduate students, the organization where you hope to work someday and anyone else you deem important in the library world. Tip: See who field leaders follow and copy them. This is an easy way to find good accounts to follow.
  4. Stay active. Now that you have an account and some people to follow, make your own Twitter feed worthy of a follow. Share useful links, re-tweet others or even show what you are doing professionally. Tip: Try to be active at least once a day.
  5. Interact. Add a comment to something you retweet or answer a question posed by another user. Show your knowledge and share resources with others. For example, if you like an article in Library Journal, tweet at them and say so. If you are excited to read a book, tweet at the author. The more you interact with Twitter, the more you will get out of it. Tip: Ask your followers to interact with you as well—you can even set up a poll!
  6. Use hashtags. Hashtags are an easy way to connect to Twitter users like you. Some hashtags I use frequently are #librarylife, #iamalibrarian, and #MLIS. When you use these hashtags, they are automatically hyperlinked and grouped with other tweets that use the same tag. You can see what others have to say about the same topic. Tip: Hashtags also make it easier for people to find and follow you.
  7. Create lists. You can make lists that limit your feed to accounts you place in a group. For example, you might have an account of just professors or just other librarians. I have a list for just publishers so I get all my information about new book releases in one place and not all over my feed. Tip: You can also create a list for hashtags.
  8. Participate in live chats. Groups and individual users have live chats where you can talk to others in real-time. Generally, the host will ask a question and users can reply through Twitter. This is a great way to hear straight from the source about important issues. Tip: Check out #NJLibChat for an example.
  9. Reach out to those who inspire you. Twitter is made for interacting. If you find someone who has your dream job, send them a friendly direct message. These are private, so you can ask how they prepared for their career and if they have any advice for you. Tip: You might consider asking for an informational interview.
  10. Take time to review your feed. Twitter is where many organizations announce conferences, new book releases, new programs—the list goes on. Be the first to know everything going on by keeping an eye on your feed. Tip: Favorite the tweets you need to remember (like conference dates) so you can find them quickly when needed.

How do you use Twitter? Share your tips in the comments!

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