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Are You Making These Networking Mistakes On Twitter?

Making connections online requires remembering the humans on the other side of the Twitter handle.

Are You Making These Networking Mistakes On Twitter?
[Twitter logo, Berlin: 360b via Shutterstock]

I love Twitter. It’s probably my favorite social media platform. Everyone has their go-to, although sometimes I’m led astray by FB or Instagram, I always head back to Twitter. It’s like a warm welcome home, and I’ve met some of the nicest, most influential people on Twitter the past few years. But not everyone recognizes the responsibility of speaking your truth on Twitter. If you want to alienate yourself, that’s great. Just try not to ruin your own brand, start an alias account for those snarky restaurant reviews.

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For professional networking sake, take my advice and avoid being that person by following the “How Not to Network on Twitter” rules below.

But first a story demonstrating the power of Twitter.

I started out by creating the @Parsons_Fashion twitter handle back in 2009. I tested my chops on that account for five years and opened up @ProfGretchen halfway in the middle of this, recognizing I had a hang of it, and wanted to build my own personal network, too. I now run a global online learning hub for fashion entrepreneurs called @PatterntoPlan and enjoy building a following and connecting with people all over the world on Twitter.

Still not sure? Here are five ways to ensure you’re making a huge mistake, and what to do to get yourself aligned for success on Twitter.

A surefire way to alienate yourself on Twitter:

1. Think that no ones listening to you

You’re global, and anyone, anyone, can find and listen to you. They don’t have to be following you to read your tweets. I can find you based on if you write to someone I’m following and they reply to you, it shows up in my feed as a thread. I can find you by searching a topic you hashtagged. I can find you by typing in your name, although you use @Snugglebottom as your handle, your first name is going to come up. And you’ll probably want to address that handle, it’s a bit personal when you’re trying to connect with the pros.

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2. Have your account locked or private

Why would you even be on social media if you’re going to create a locked account? Move over to Snapchat if you want to send messages to your friends. If you’re a professional and want to network, unlock that account and revise your profile to reflect the new, outwardly facing you.

3. You promote your products and services, a lot

Anytime you tweet, you’re pushing what you sell, why someone should buy your amazing life-changing product. No one wants that. It’s like sitting next to that person at a social event, you can’t wait to use your “I have to call the sitter” excuse and relocate to the other side of the room. Don’t be that person. Follow some sage advice to give good content, talk about your life, things you love, things that irk you, and chat with your friends online. It shows you’re a good community member.

4. When you travel, you turn off your twitter handle

No! This is the exact opposite of what you want to be doing. In order to create the global you, connect with people in different time zones, and in different states. Wake up with your phone on the road and tweet to the locals, use hashtags for the city where you’re visiting, even the neighborhoods. #Dalston in London is totally cool and you want to show you know your stuff.

5. You hide behind the handle

The most exciting moments throughout the past five years have been when I actually met with someone, in person, I originally connected with on Twitter. I call them my “Twitter buddies” and sure, I have friends who laugh when I say “I’m meeting a new Twitter buddy for coffee,” but I secretly know it’s going to be a really fun exchange, in this busy bustling city of NYC. I recently met with @SewHeidi for a coffee. I noticed she was favoriting a lot of my tweets one week, retweeting some, and I thought, “Who is this chick, what’s she all about?” Looking at her profile, and then her website, I liked what she was up to, we exchanged emails, and made a coffee date. She offered an extra ticket to a fashion tech event that weekend (she’s one awesome chick!). I sent my research assistant and now they’re in-person and Instagram friends too!

So now that you’re changing your tune about the fun and exciting times on Twitter, tweet me. I’d love to hear from you and hear where you’ve found success networking and meeting people on Twitter: @ProfGretchen and @PatterntoPlan.

Gretchen Harnick is a Digital Marketing Consultant with more than 15 years of experience driving brand communication strategies in the fashion, retail, and lifestyle industries; she currently holds an assistant professorship in Fashion Marketing at Parsons, The New School for Design.

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This article originally appeared on Levo and is reprinted with permission.