3 simple and effective Twitter hacks

Ok, so we’ve established that Twitter can be useful for you (https://owntrepreneurship.com/2015/10/18/i-dont-get-twitter/). Great. Now what do you do?

We’ll you need to start following and you need to start twitting. That much is obvious. But with time you will understand that in order to reach a wide audience you need to tweet and tweet often, only during the relevant times of day for your target audience (see this article for the A Scientific Guide to Posting Tweets

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/belle-beth-cooper/a-scientific-guide-to-pos_b_4262571.html

Using Tweetdeck

Tweetdeck is very effective in schedulling your twits
Analytics

Since you don’t want to be up at strange times of the night tweeting, nor like repeating yourself several time a day, this is a great tool. You simply type the tweet and decide when it will be posted. That’s’ it. Sounds silly but the fact that you can schedule every tweet multiple times ( I tweet at least 3 extra times per tweet) provides you much greater reach.

Twitter Analytics

Use Analytics to optimize your tweeting
Use Analytics to optimize your tweeting

Twitter is enigmatic to most of us. It is unclear why certain tweets succeed (meaning the get re-tweeted and like a lot) and other don’t receive any attention. The only way to identify what’s working is to employ some analytical tools. Luckily, there is a great, free tool for everyone to us. Called Twitter analytics ( www.analytics.twitter.com). It allows you to see which tweets gained the most traction, some demographic information about your audience.

The trick? Check yesterday’s tweets, see which were the most successful, and re-tweet them again.

This is a great tool practice to fine-tuning your publishing and hash-tagging skills.

Use Hashtags (#) and Mentions @ while twitting

Yep, this is the official Twitter lingo, and you need to use it to make your tweets reach a wider audience (for a complete and helpful Twitter glossary https://support.twitter.com/articles/166337)

According to Twitter, The # symbol, called a hashtag, is used to mark keywords or topics in a Tweet. It was created organically by Twitter users as a way to categorize messages (https://support.twitter.com/articles/49309)

If its’ hashtagged, than it is easily searchable and will reach a larger audience, which is not comprised only of your followers but also from every Twitter user who’s search for this hashtag. The @ sign is used to call out usernames in Tweets. By including a mention of a specific @username in Tweets, you will make sure the person mentioned receives a notification of your tweet. Basically, the more you engage people (like/ favorite their tweets, mention them, retweet their messages, reply to their messages) you increase the likelihood of them interacting back with you- following you, retweeting your twits and like your tweets- all of which increase your influence.

Just like any other social network, Twitter is a numbers game. The more followers you have, the greater reach you have and more people will notice and follow you. Unlike other platforms in Twitter you need to be very proactive to increase and maintain your followership. So use these 3 hacks to do so and start reaping the rewards of this peculiar yet entertaining platform. Oh, please don’t forget to Twit this to the world…

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When is it OK to utilize your network?

When is it OK to utilize your network?

Reach out to your connections when in need, but do it right
Reach out to your connections when in need, but do it right

So, if you’ve been reading my latest posts about networking (https://owntrepreneurship.com/2015/07/27/the-advantages-of-being-accessible/

And https://owntrepreneurship.com/2015/07/17/you-are-the-sum-of-your-connections/)

Then surely you realize it is important and very much possible to cultivate a large network of connections.

But when and how can one utilize this awesome network of followers?

First let’s dwell on why I refer to the action of asking something from your network as “utilizing”? well, I consider my network one of my greatest resources, and I utilize it regularly- as a reader base, to ask specific questions and even the odd “ can you help me get a job at your firm” request.

So now that we’ve established this is a resource, one must wonder how not to abuse or over use it- or, simply put- one must ass when and how I can utilize this awesome network of followers?

Well, like everything else in life – the answer is “it depends”. It depends on your need, urgency and level of intimacy with the person you wish to engage.

The need- simply put, is the person qualified to help you with what you need to do? If she is 100% relevant to what you want to achieve (for instance, is in charge of recruiting in a firm you want approach) than it’s ok to approach her and simply ask what it is you want her to do (introduce you to someone, sample your product, provide feedback on your website etc.).

Urgency- this is easy to grasp- sometime speed is of the essence- like when a new job opening is posted on a company website and you happen to know someone from the inside who can make sure your friend’s CV is one of the first to make it to the recruiter’s desk. Or when you really need to reach out to someone now. Most people appreciate that “desperate times” call for desperate means and if you will explain why the request is urgent they are likely to accept even if otherwise they would have rejected the request.

Intimacy- in today’s world of loosely related networks (also known as “weak connections” we cannot expect the same level of intimacy as before. And yet, there is a wide spectrum of degrees of closeness. Starting from the obvious- Family and close friends are pretty much open to help request anytime. Weaker connections and ones which are purely virtual- people you’ve never met, spoken to or even emailed, but are connected to on Social media ) are less likely to assist, given that they don’t actually know you.

Given that you’ve considered these factors and decided to move ahead and utilize the connection, please bear the following principles in mind:

  1. Be polite: You are making a move here, so the reasonability is on you. Be polite, use proper grammar and respect the other side (don’t “Bro” anyone you are not actually bros with). It will go a long way in helping the other side to decide to assist you.
  1. Be specific: Tell them why you approached them, why now and what it is you expect them to do. The worse case scenario is someone telling you it’s out of their reach, but more positive outcomes could be that people who wants to help but can’t/ not capable of, will often direct you (or even approach on you behalf) another individual who could be of help.
  1. Don’t erode your currency- Don’t ask multiple times the same request, don’t bug people if you don’t get an answer. Being “connected” to someone does not mean you have the right to annoy and spam. And respect the “No”- if someone refuses to help accept it and move on. Fighting such a person will seriously erode your credibility for the next time you have a need for assistance.
  2. Be willing to give back- reciprocation, even if not specifically mentioned, is to be expected. If you are not comfortable with someone asking you to reciprocate with an introduction to a guy in your firm, don’t ask them a similar thing in the first place.

Conclusion

It was said that in ancient China, if you managed to get some face time you could have asked for anything, it would have been given to you. This made sense because such a tiny percentage of the population ever had a chance of actually meeting their ruler, so if one had the resources and means to achieve this it was usually important enough so the emperor would abide by the request. Today you don’t have to wait a lifetime to ask anyone (even famous and powerful people) anything. And yet, it might be sensible to think of the story of the emperor and save the requests for important stuff. Building a large network of connection is easier than ever before, but that does not mean we need to abuse this powerful resource.

The two alternative social platforms you should be using this moment

If you are reading this by all likelihood you’ve came here from Facebook, Twitter of LinkedIn. You probably dwell there daily, follow the links to sites and blogs such as this, and if you are a “power-user” you even contribute from time to time, posting witty twits, posting thought and images on your Facebook wall or longer opinion pieces on LinkedIn Pulse platform. Or you might even cultivate your own blog on a platform such as WordPress or Blogger. And you might feel this is enough, but I’m here to tell you there are 2 social platforms you simply can’t ignore at the moment, especially if your into marketing.

Medium and Quora
Medium and Quora

Medium

Founded in 2012  by two ex- Twitteroids, Medium is fast becoming THE blogging platform of our time.  As the mission statement on the “about”  page says:” Medium is a new place on the Internet where people share ideas and stories that are longer than 140 characters and not just for friends. It’s designed for little stories that make your day better and manifestos that change the world. It’s used by everyone from professional journalists to amateur cooks. It’s simple, beautiful, collaborative, and it helps you find the right audience for whatever you have to say” (https://medium.com/about/welcome-to-medium-9e53ca408c48)

And the beauty is that it does just that. If you want to read great content- its all there. If you want to simply start writing and publish it to a potentially massive audience- this is the place to do. With the simplest “what you see is what you get” interface, it’s really is all about writing (it’s easy to combine images too, but it’s not a tumbler-like site at all. Words are the essence here.

Why should you care: well, it’s where I’d go for a great read, and I enjoy publishing posts there occasionally. It’s also free of charge, hassle free and visually appealing.

Quora: you could write posts on Quora too, but that’s not the point. The point of Quora is answering every conceivable question in the world. From silly questions to philosophical ones, anyone can post a question and anyone can answer (the site editors remove duplications and maintain the discussion on proper term). You can ask someone to answer a specific question, “pay” them with credits and even accumulate credits for answering others. If you think this is childish (does sound like a dream machine for any curios 4 years old), just know that many famous and smart people visit the site regularly and contribute from their experience and wisdom. People like Ashton Kutcher, Mark Cuban, Werner Vogels, Sheryl Sandberg, Mark Zuckerberg, Marc Andreesen and many others. The site has a large Indian population and the Quorans seems to infatuated with entrepreneurs in general and Elon Musk in particular. Still, if you have any question worth asking – this is the place (and you do get great answers from people in the know- you can ask VCs what they are looking for in a startup pitch, or ask people how to improve your SEO, and just about anything else). The think I like the most about Quora is that if used properly, you are genuinely helping others (and receive the recognition you deserve in return).

Why should you care: a great place to get answers for just about everything you ever wanted to know, and one of the only places online you can really help others. It’s also free.

So, to summarize, publishing posts on LinkedIn is nice, but you should really be exploring more sociable alternatives. Note that I’m refraining from using the term “blogging platforms”- both sites are much more of a social meeting place than a mere platform. One word of advise- these sites can be fairly addictive, Quora in particular ( you will check your app in the morning to see how many people have upvoted your recent answer, I guarantee it.

The benefits of making yourself accessible to others

Putting yourself out there is a scary thing. It used to be that only a very specific type of people would do that- artists, writers, “celebrities”. Enter web 2.0 and we can all (in theory at least) connect to everyone, everywhere (I’ve discussed the benefits of having multiple connections in previous posts: https://owntrepreneurship.com/2015/07/20/growing-your-network-as-an-introvert/).

system-571182_1920
If you are accesible, they will find you

But the fact that you can connect, and sometimes actively do doesn’t mean your are accessible. Most people will content with just connecting to people they know, or to people whom they’ve just met ( see https://owntrepreneurship.com/2015/07/20/growing-your-network-as-an-introvert/), but that would be it. And it is a shame because every human connection has two sides. And if you’re not accessible, than you are making it harder for OTHERS to reach out to you. What do I mean when I say accessible? First of all- you must have some sort of online presence. Some place people can come and see you, hear what you have to say and be able to assess whether connecting with you is sensible for them. It can be social media account (obviously Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter, but also the more visual Pinterest and Instagram and the likes), a private blog or a corporate blog. Anywhere online which is the “digital you”. This was once an exception but today it’s pretty much standard practice for everyone. And even if you are exceptionally shy and reluctant to share any detail of your private life- do remember that you control every aspect of this exposure, so you can determine how much and what to share.

If you are still not convince- think of the downside of not having any online presence at all- in all honesty, this might appear as you have something to hide from the world (surely potential employers would be very suspicious of this).
Once you’ve set this up, do try to make it accessible- meaning allowing people to look you up, see your information etc. obscuring this using elaborate “privacy” settings defeats the whole purpose of being out there. Next, think about you inclination to receive connection request. Would you accept these from everyone, just people you know well or even from people you’ve met briefly? I believe that unless the other person clearly has malicious intents or uses questionable ethics (such as utilizing a fake image) it worth connecting to, if only to increase my visibility. And this is the real secret of networking in large scale networks- the more people you connect to (or connect to you), the more visible you become- hence more people are made aware of your existence seek to connect with you. Sure, some would like things from you – an intro to another person, or for you buy whatever it is they are selling. But for most people- they seek to connect from the same reasons you are. Some might even have a genuine interest in you and what you are doing, and, when called upon, will be happy to extend some help ( I will elaborate on how to utilize this enormous resource in future posts).  So don’t be shy, and make sure you are visible and accessible. You network will grow as a result, and you might, just might be opening yourself to new opportunities which were never available to you until now.

You are the sum of your connections

The power of connections
The power of connections

We tend to measure the progress in our careers by looking at tangible things- how much we earn, how many people we manage, how important is our title. These are all metrics that measures ourselves. But few of us ever consider that we might not be the most important elements in our own success, but others that we are connected to. I would even dare say that who you know is sometimes more important than how you are. The concept of “connectors” was illustrated to great effect in Malcolm Gladwell’s “The tipping point”.  Gladwell claims that social epidemics (that was back in 2006. Today he would have used the phrase “viral”) are dependent on the involvement of three types of social agents: Maven, Connector, or Salesperson. Mavens and salesperson are easily identified and defined- just think about that guy who knows everything about gadgets and the guy always trying to persuade you to dine at this new restaurant. But Connectors are more difficult to fathom. Gladwell defines them as:” the people in a community who know large numbers of people and who are in the habit of making introductions. A connector is essentially the social equivalent of a computer network hub. They usually know people across an array of social, cultural, professional, and economic circles, and make a habit of introducing people who work or live in different circles. They are people who “link us up with the world…people with a special gift for bringing the world together” (if you haven’t already read it, I recommend you do so now: http://gladwell.com/the-tipping-point/).

And since we all have about the same capacity for close connections (we can maintain close-ish relations with about 150 people at a time, according to Dunbar’s law), what sets true connectors apart is their ability to establish and maintain a much wider network of secondary (or “weak”) connections. The importance of these weaker connections was first identified in the 1960s, a Doctor Mark Granovetter who conducted a study to determine the role that friendships play in helping individuals find employment. Granovetter discovered that in the process of landing a job, weak-tie acquaintances were often more important than strong-tie friendships because weak ties give us access to social networks where we otherwise don’t belong. And while we expect sales-oriented people to be good at this, and them alone, the truth is that having access to multiple social circles is crucial for anyone who’s ever going to migrate between geographies, change her line of work or care about a non-work related cause. And since this maybe true for only a fraction of the population now, it will surely be a decisive edge in the future, where expert foresee no job stability and diverse employment models being the norm.

So the next time you submit a job application, remember that in addition to your resume, the people reading your CV also look at who you know and how many you know. This network of connection could be your decisive edge (in future posts I will explore further how to establish and maintain such large networks of connections).

Your online footprint management is vital for your career

Online footprint across platform
Online footprint across platform

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Its’ all so easy and effortless, we don’t stop for one second to thing how our online behavior can affect our career. But like so many other things that can appear small and insignificant at the time, over a long timeframe our online actions accumulate and can have a profound impact on our career.

Is it possible that what we post on Facebook can affect our next job? It sure can, for 2 reasons.

The first is that in the “online” world our professional lives are inseparable from our personal lives. Everything is free for everyone to see, so there’s no point in maintaining an impeccable persona on “professional” sites (LinkedIn, Xing for example) and behave rudely on Facebook and twitter. It’s all the same to the web.

The other reason for the significance of our online behavior is that everything we do online leaves a mark somewhere on the web, and it’s now impossible to erase this “online footprint”. Every ugly selfie you’ve posted, untasteful twit and even innocuous detail you’ve mentioned somewhere online might one day come back to haunt you. It is almost futile to try to resist this (try shutting down ALL your social media accounts, email, and subscription to random websites etc.

So given that everything we do somewhere online is visible to all and will remain there forever, how should one conduct? Try these following tips:

  1. Be kind and ditch negativity- the web has endless memory. Everything posted lasts forever. So it is much better to spread kindness than rudeness. And don’t start battles over the web- things tend to escalate quickly online (we don’t see or fear the other person) and people have long memory, too. As a rule, if you can contribute something positive, do. If not, shut up about it.
  2. Be honest- no point in lying although some will try (a guy a know from my service in the navy boasts in his LinkedIn profile that he graduated first from the Naval academy, and commanded elaborate drill with US 6th All lies). Keep whatever information you want for yourself, but never lie. Remember- potential employer know how to Google and compare your’ various profiles.
  3. Be positively active- your online footprint today, is, in fact, your business card and portfolio tied together. If you have enough google references- it means you are important. Appear on many entrepreneurs’ website- it means you in the entrepreneurial business. So if hiding isn’t an option anymore, you might as well do the opposite and contribute as much as you can.

Remember, you online activities is like a trail of breadcrumbs you carve on the face of the internet. It might just lead something great your way- you just need to make sure you leaving the quality stuff behind, and keep all the negativity to yourself.