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8 Tips for Power Networking on Twitter

I just figured out a key reason why Twitter is so exciting...

In the past three weeks since I've really been using it, I've gotten to converse to some degree with some of the most respected and powerful people in my industry (SEM/Web 2.0).

I hate to list them, because I'll probably leave somebody out, but it's been thrilling to converse with some of the most influential people in the blogsphere, the twitterverse, and sphinn- people like (and they are not listed in order of importance, shoe size, or the number of pieces of bacon they can eat in one sitting):

  • Rand Fishkin @randfish is CEO of SEOmoz, ranked 9,197 in Alexa.
  • Maki @doshdosh his doshdosh.com 33,449 in Alexa.; As a sphinner, he has had 100+ sphinns go hot.
  • Kevin Heisler @kevinheisler is Executive Editor of SearchEngineWatch, which ranks 7,637 in Alexa.
  • Lee Odden @leeodden who runs SEM/SMO firm TopRank, and his TopRankBlog is 56,413th in Alexa.
  • Danny Sullivan and Robert Scoble haven't said anything to me yet, but I talk to them when it's relevant wink
  • Michael Arrington @techcrunch is one of Time's Top 100 most influential, and his site is ranked 1,784th in Alexa.  Hmm I thought I had talked with him but summize says otherwise.  Maybe it was an older direct message. 
  • And unfortunately, I can't share some of the cool stuff said in direct msgs by others above.  Direct msgs are private, don't want to violate that understanding.

Here's some of the kind of conversation I mean:

In response to a thank you for posting our blog on his list of Top SEM Blogs:


And some conversation about one of my blog posts, retweeting, and of course, nostalgic moments for Gen X music-lovers:


This kind of conversation with VIP's would not have happened with email.  Email is too private.  How would I get their address?  What right would I have to it?  And if I could email them, I would be unwelcome because I was a stranger.  Even a short message would be intrusive. 

But not so on Twitter.

Let me be clear- I did not stalk these people or even expect to hear from them as much as I have.  I followed them along with several hundred other people, and I replied to what I thought was interesting when I thought I had something to contribute.  I didn't even know who some of these people were a month ago- actually Rand and Danny were the only ones of the bunch above that I knew about.

The networking came naturally.  If you're professional and you have people skills, it's easy.

Twitter is more open than email. Anybody can @reply you, jump into the conversation, respond to your thoughts, no matter how important you are.  You have to choose to be more closed off than that, and most people don't.

Twitter surprises you because as long as you're respectful, people are friendly.  Especially since what makes some of these people big in their industry is that they understand the value of connecting with people, of connections and openness and information flow.  Also, it's cooler than email, allows more of your personality to shine through, makes connections easier.

Whether some big name person responds to you or not is up to them.  How interesting are you, what mood are they in, how busy are they, etc.  But the point is, you have a shot.

Pithiness makes introductions, even self-introductions, more palatable. Almost anybody is ok with 140 characters of message from a stranger.  If you don't seem weird or spammy or rude, most people won't turn you off.

If you are polite, grateful, useful, funny, entertaining, etc., you might start an acquaintanceship with someone.  There's more to the best practices of networking, but that's not my point here.

My point is- Twitter's openness and pithiness makes it possible for you to give elevator speeches, of sorts- and your life, profile, website, previous tweets are all there for others to judge.  So if your body of work looks good to the VIP you're @-ing, you have a shot.

Here are some tips on how I've networked thus far- although really, you can't fake this- you have to be authentic- you can't be a spammer fake marketer and follow these tips and succeed- if you're not for real, please don't try:

  1. Make friends by sharing interests
  2. Compliment people on good blog posts
  3. Make contrary points if you're sure you're right, but if you think you might make someone look bad, is it really worth it?  And what if you're wrong?  Get your facts straight, sleep on it, pick your battles
  4. Comment on people's posts on social bookmarking sites like sphinn and digg
  5. Read and comment on people's actual blogs- you may show up in their MyBlogLog and they'll start to get familiar with you- use the same avatar everywhere, I think I learned that from @spostareduro
  6. Follow interesting people and have interesting conversations with them.
  7. Be yourself, unless you're a jerk, in which case you should go somewhere and have a personal transformation.  Otherwise, just show off your sparkling personality.  Show what makes you different.
  8. Be interested in other people and help them out however you can.

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