Pamela Findling (@pfindling) gave a presentation at last evening’s EAC-BC monthly meeting about how to use Twitter to find writing and editing work. The key is to exploit the medium’s uniquely informal social atmosphere and its capacity for quick and far-reaching community building to network and find contacts.
She outlined seven tips as part of her Twitter strategy:
1. Know whom to follow
- Start with people you know; search for colleagues and see who they’re following.
- Start following potential clients. Pamela began following magazines and businesses that she was interesting in working for. What’s handy is that the person tweeting is usually the editor or the communications coordinator at a publication/organization, so Twitter allows you to build an immediate connection and a direct link to the editor. And Twitter’s casual, quick-response environment means that an editor is more likely to respond to a tweet than an email query. Further, Twitter is basically free, so organizations may opt to tweet about a job before paying a job-search site like Monster to advertise an opportunity.
- Follow professional organizations; once in a while they will tweet about job postings. Branch out beyond the writing and editing organizations; follow designers’ groups, the Society for Technical Communication, the Board of Trade, Chamber of Commerce, etc.
- Follow job-search sites. Jobsprout often posts writing- and editing-related jobs.
2. Chat people up
- Don’t be afraid to jump into conversations, even with strangers. Twitter doesn’t carry the same kinds of social barriers to participation that other settings might.
- Ask questions and try to give people a sense of who you are and what you’re interested in. Once you’ve started conversing with someone on Twitter, it becomes much easier to introduce yourself in person. (At networking events, Pamela often puts her Twitter ID on her name tag.)
3. Search for keywords
- Search Twitter for key phrases, like “editing jobs” or “hire an editor.” Doing so will bring up opportunities all over the world, many of which will allow you to work remotely. (Pamela does caution that searching also brings up a lot of garbage, so you’ll have to sort judiciously.)
4. Use hashtags
- Highlight particular subjects—your interests—with hashtags in your tweets. People interested in the same things will able to find your tweets just by clicking on a hashtag, so this is a way of getting your name out faster.
5. Post interesting content
- Talk about projects you’re working on, emphasizing specific skills you’re using when you’re working on particular projects.
- Post links to your work. Using an author’s or client’s ID in that tweet allows them to see that you’re actively promoting them.
- Post about your area of expertise. For example, if you’re an editor, post grammar, spelling, or punctuation tips. Doing so establishes you as an expert in your field.
- Post about events.
- Post links to interesting articles.
Just be aware that Twitter is public—anyone can see your tweets. This presents a huge networking opportunity but also means that your tweets should reflect your professionalism and editorial standards.
6. Check in and post regularly
- Check in at least once a day. Twitter moves really quickly, so job vacancies are often filled shortly after they’re posted.
7. Share the love
- Twitter has Follow Fridays (hashtag #FF), where you list the IDs of other people and organizations you think your friends should follow. It’s essentially an informal referral, giving recognition to others, and it shows that you’re not just about you. Use this to build your network.
- Use others’ Twitter IDs in your tweets.
- Thank people for excellent service or for their help. Because of Twitter’s rapid and wide reach, a thank-you on Twitter goes far.
The presentation was excellent—engaging and informative. I have to confess to being a social media hermit myself. I’m on neither Facebook nor Twitter, primarily because I realize that they can be time vacuums. Although I occasionally wonder what I’m missing out on, I must say that I rather appreciate the quiet. So for now, this site is probably as deep as I’ll get, though having Pamela’s tips may come in handy some day, if I find myself wanting to branch out.