We think Twitter is a powerful tool. It makes us mad when we go to conferences or listen to panels and hear how “ineffective” Twitter is at helping with networking.
Twitter is a realistic, easy-to-use, and effective way to meet new people. (Remember, we met on Twitter, so we are not kidding about this!)
How to Get Started on Twitter
Never used Twitter? It is pretty easy (and free). You can send messages of 140 characters (or fewer) to people who are “following” you. They’ll see your messages in their “stream/feed.” You can also follow people, and you’ll see their messages in your stream.
What is interesting about Twitter, though, is that it is asynchronous, meaning that you can follow people without having them follow you back.
This means that you can get updates from people you which you knew, but don’t. So, if you would like to get updates from Hugh Jackman (@RealHughJackman) you can do so without ever knowing him. Sounds a little strange, but everyone is doing it!
In the beginning, Twitter can be a bit impenetrable. But there are a lot of legal types on Twitter, and it is actually a close-knit community. You may be surprised at how knowledgeable, friendly, and helpful many folks are.
If they are active on Twitter, it’s often the case that they want to reach out and meet new people. So you should go out and meet them!
Step 1: Sign up
Signing up for Twitter is very easy. You just create an account and then follow some people.
That’s pretty much it. (For more details, check out this beginner’s guide to Twitter.) But please think through your Twitter ID, because you want to make sure it is something you feel comfortable using professionally and not just personally!
(And keep in mind that you might be subject to rules about Twitter use as an attorney in certain jurisdictions. If you’re a licensed attorney, it’s a good idea to look at your state’s ethical rules to see how they feel about social media.)
Step 2: Follow some people
Once you’ve signed up, it’s time to follow some people! This can initially be confusing, but it gets easier once you’ve found a core group of relevant users to follow.
- Search by law-related “hashtags.” We haven’t gotten into what exactly a hashtag is, but it’s pretty simple. If you add “#” in front of a word, it becomes a hashtag. So, if you want to find networking-related “tweets,” you could search for #Networking, #Careers, or #Findingalawjob and find people to follow that way. Twitter’s built-in search doesn’t make it super easy to search by hashtag, so you might find something like Hashtags.org more useful. You can also Google “Twitter #networking,” for example, and get some useful results or just click on a hashtag when you’re looking at your feed; most viewing programs will bring up a list of recent tweets using the tag. When you get your search results, you’ll know who’s “tweeting” in your areas of interest, so it’s an excellent way to find new people to follow.
- Look to see who’s following whom. This is an often-overlooked but fantastic way to find good accounts to follow. You can look at the list of followers for any Twitter user. So, for example, if you’re interested in career-related content per Trebuchet, you can check out who does @LawSchoolTools follow? Chances are good you might like some of these same people! And, assuming you’re logged into your account, it’s super easy to find out more about someone by clicking on the username and then clicking the “follow” button.
- Look at other peoples’ lists. It’s possible to create lists of people tweeting on certain topics, which is a useful way to organize your own Twitter feed. But, more importantly, you can see other peoples’ lists — which means you can short-circuit your own investigation and follow people more experienced users think have good stuff to say about law, or networking, or whatever.
- Pay attention to “retweets.” When you see a retweet, it generally shows you who the original author was. Click on the username to find out more, and see if you’d also like to follow that user. This is why having someone with a broad reach retweet your content generally leads to new followers.
Step 3: Start interacting
You can start to retweet interesting content or post your own content for all the world to see. You can even start trying to engage someone in a Twitter conversation by putting the Twitter handle in the tweet. (Here are 11 ways you can start a conversation on twitter.)
You may want to observe a bit before you start to interact, but it really isn’t that hard to get started. And you might be surprised at who writes you back!
Step 4: Once real connections are made, feel free to engage in a real dialogue off Twitter
Real connections can be made through Twitter, but eventually you should get to know individuals outside of Twitter. So once you have had a bit of a Twitter conversation, you may want to Direct Message the individual through Twitter (a private message) or send an email.
At this point the individual will likely know who you are so you can easily engage in a conversation.
But remember, think before you post. The downside to social media is that what you say is out there — forever. So think before you post. Sure, 140 characters may not be a lot, but take a moment before you click the “post” button. You may thank yourself in the end.
Want more tips on using Twitter? Check out these posts:
- Why Every Law Student Should Be on Twitter (The Girl’s Guide to Law School)
- What NOT to Do on Twitter (Jared Correia)
- The Complete Guide to How Lawyers Should Not Use Twitter (Lawyerist)
- Twitter 101: How to Get Started on Twitter (Twitter)
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And check out these other helpful posts:
- Legal Networking 101: How Do You Know What to Talk About While Networking
- Legal Networking 101: A New Definition of Networking
- Legal Networking 101: Don’t Be an A**hole
- Legal Networking 101: Networking Today Isn’t Like the Networking of Yesterday
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