“Twitter a waste of time.”
If you’ve been around the freelancing community very long, you’ve probably heard both comments. But, which is it? Is Twitter an important way to find way for freelancers to find work, or is it a waste of a freelancer’s time?
The answer is…it depends.
It’s certainly possible to waste time on Twitter if you use it carelessly. It’s also possible to find work through Twitter. In this post we’ll discuss the how to make the most of Twitter as a job hunting and networking tool. If you’re interested in wasting time, I think you can figure that one out on your own. ;)
Learn All You Can
To get the most out of Twitter, you need to learn as much as you can about the tool. At Freelance Folder, we have a lot of great posts about Twitter. Four of the best to get you started are:
- Twitter For Freelancers (A Basic Overview)
- Five Ways to Generate Referrals or Followers with Twitter
- 3 Ways To Get Clients From Twitter
- How to Get Started with Twitter Lists
Once you’ve reviewed the basics of how to use Twitter and some of its features you’re ready to move on and optimize your Twitter account for finding freelance work.
Start With Your Profile
One of the biggest mistakes that I see freelancers making on Twitter is having a vague or incomplete Bio. If someone unfamiliar contacts me through Twitter, the first thing that I do is to click on their user name and view their Bio to learn more about the user.
More and more often, I’m finding that the Bio information is blank or meaningless. A blank Bio tells me nothing about the Twitter user. If your Twitter Bio is blank it means that prospective clients can’t find anything out about you either. This also means that they are much less likely to contact you about work.
As a minimum, a freelancer’s profile should contain a brief description of what they do (in the Bio) and a link back to their professional website (a portfolio or blog).
You can update your profile by selecting the Settings option on the main Twitter Menu and then selecting Profile from the Settings menu.
Follow the Right People
Another mistake that freelancers make is only following their friends or peers on Twitter.
Don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing wrong with following friends and peers, but if you want to use your Twitter account to find work you also need to be following current clients and potential clients.
Take a look through your prospect list and ask yourself the following questions:
- Who would I like to do a project with?
- Do they have a Twitter account?
- Am I following them on Twitter?
It may take some sleuthing on your part to uncover the Twitter accounts of current and prospective clients, but in the long run your effort will be worth it.
A word about number of followers–there are many methods of gathering large numbers of Twitter followers quickly being promoted online. Most of these programs are largely ineffective for networking purposes. While you may be able to build your follower list quickly with such a program, it is unlikely that the followers gained are true prospects for your business. It is much better to have a smaller follower base that is truly interested in you and what you do.
What about the Who to Follow suggestions from Twitter? Are they likely to be good prospects?
The Who to Follow suggestions are based on Twitter’s own algorithm and right now they aren’t telling what that algorithm is. You’re much better off deciding who to follow based on the criteria that I listed above.
Have Quality Interactions
Do your tweets have personality?
Here are two mistakes that many freelancers on Twitter make:
- Constantly sending out impersonal post announcements
- Blindly tweeting for work
It’s okay to announce posts through tweets–especially if you take the time to make sure that you are sharing quality information. But, that shouldn’t be the sum total of what you do on Twitter.
Likewise, you shouldn’t constantly be tweeting about how you need work and nothing else. You wouldn’t go up to a stranger and open the conversation by asking for work before you introduced yourself, would you?
Take the time to have some personal interactions with those you follow (and those who follow you). You can do this in several ways:
- Ask a question that requires a little bit of thought
- Answer a question that requires a little bit of thought
- Share something about your current projects
Pay attention to what others tweet. You never know when someone might share that they are hiring.
Don’t be afraid to use Twitter’s Direct Message feature if you want to ask a private question of someone you are following, but be careful not to flood anyone with too many private messages.
The Direct Message feature is the third option in the right column (under the Home option and your user name).
I’ve often used the Direct Message function to ask a follower for more details about a writing position, or followers have contacted me through this function.
Don’t Forget About Search
The Twitter search feature is another great way to look for projects on Twitter. There are two ways that you can use Twitter search:
- Type a phrase (just like you would in Google)–The search tool brings up any recent tweets that contain that phrase.
- Search using hash tags #–Hash tags are one way that Twitter users to tag their content. Some tags you might want to try include: #[yourspecialty]jobs (such as #designjobs, #writingjobs, etc), #jobs, #projects, and so on.
If you know of some Twitter users that regularly broadcast links to job openings, you may want to consolidate them using the Twitter List tool and check the list frequently.
The Twitter search tool is located on the right side of the Twitter window, between the Retweets and Lists options.
A Few Reminders
Twitter can be a powerful tool in your job-hunting arsenal, but it shouldn’t be your only tool. Just like with any other networking or social media strategy, finding jobs through Twitter takes time. You should view Twitter participation as a long-term investment in your business.
Share Your Thoughts and Experiences
Have you found work through Twitter?
What methods did you use? Share your answers in the comments.
Image by rosauraochoa