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It is my belief that fear keeps most professionals from taking advantage of all that Twitter has to offer. For those that seek to challenge themselves and overcome fears, Twitter is the place to be. Here are five reasons why every professional may find value in participating on Twitter.

Listening

First and foremost, the ability to stay current on breaking news, both national and local, should justify being on Twitter for everyone. When news breaks, it typically appears on Twitter before reaching your local TV news channel. News Correspondents are finding themselves getting the breaking news from everyday people as it happens. I recently moved to Sacramento and experienced tornado warnings a few weeks ago. During the broadcast of the breaking news, I was seeing pictures of the tornadoes on Twitter, then minutes later the local news channels showing the same photos from Twitter posted on the TV.

Learning

Twitter delivers a wealth of information directly to your fingertips. Individuals and brands share the stage competing for their voice to be heard. You can find information on virtually any topic spanning every industry. To get the most out of the platform, I started creating lists, which enabled me to filter specific areas of interest and group the people and information for greater efficiency. Over time, your lists will become your go-to sources for learning. In some cases, I use this as a replacement for subscribing to blogs. For example, my areas of interest are in learning and development (training), marketing, and financial services. I created list of financial planners, industry organizations, marketers, and training professionals.

Marketing

Social Media

Think you know marketing? In my opinion, there is no place more difficult than Twitter to market yourself or your brand. Conveying a message and gaining interest from your target audience in less than 140 characters (actually about 110 characters because you want RTs with commentary which consume the remaining 30 characters) can be a daunting task. Especially given that there are approximately 241 million monthly active users and 5,700 average tweets per second on the platform (Source). Getting your message heard will be an uphill battle but is something that is possible with the right strategy, focus, and commitment. Learning to market yourself and perhaps your company’s brand will place you ahead of your competition. Why? If you can build a brand or name for yourself on Twitter, you have proven the ability to deliver concise and purposeful messages that resonate with an audience (that you built for yourself) as well as demonstrated key character traits/skills of great leaders such as creativity, persistence, networking, and great communication to name a few.

Connecting

The networking opportunities are endless when it comes to Twitter. Since I joined Twitter in May of 2009, I have been fortunate enough to connect with some amazing people from all over the world. Through my listening, learning, connecting, and personal branding efforts I have built relationships that have evolved over the years. How did I do it? I gave more than I took from the platform. I was willing to share my ideas and my experiences with others without expecting anything in return. In addition, Twitter allows you to connect directly with world-renowned authors, speakers, industry experts, and everyday people like each of us. We get to share our wisdom gained from both successes and failures while building lasting relationships.

Word of caution: Not all Twitter accounts are managed by the individuals being portrayed in them (i.e. celebrities, politicians, professional athletes, etc.…)

Branding

Twitter makes it easy to share your knowledge, expertise, and thoughts to a large audience. If you’re a blogger, Twitter should be one of your primary methods of distributing your content. Here are two examples of how someone may choose to brand himself or herself on Twitter. Some have positioned themselves as a Thought Leader (sharing expertise relevant to a niche audience), while others have taken the stance as a Content Curator (sharing the thoughts and ideas of others on a specific topic). In another piece, I interviewed a Personal Branding expert who has leveraged Twitter among many other resources to build his personal brand (Personal Branding Part 1 and Part 2).

In the end, you get what you put into it. Invest your time, energy, and resources into Twitter and it will generate results for you. Focus on building a strategy, listen first and learn how others are using it, then begin to share content. Also, research tools such as Hootsuite, Buffer, and SocialBro to measure your results. Figure out what works and doesn’t work, and then modify your strategy. If all else fails, ask for help. Twitter is a global community of sharing. There are individuals around the world willing to share their thoughts and ideas to help each other be successful.

Image Sources: istockphoto