By Joe Londergan, @Joehio_
In parts one and two of this series, we covered how to make yourself easily accessible and the essentials of professional networking on Twitter. In this final piece in the series, I wanted to examine ways in which you can create a unique, authentic, yet polished voice for yourself in the social space. First, there are the easy things to avoid.
Swearing usually doesn't do any good, so use your vocabulary to its full potential. Odds are, there's a better way to say what you want to say without dropping any words you can't say on television. Also, be sure to watch what pictures you post on your professional account. If you snap a couple pictures during a night out with some friends, screen them the next morning to see if they're really worth posting.
Second, don't be that guy/girl and troll accounts. Keep in mind there's a person behind every social media account you tag in a tweet. These two tweets from Tampa Bay Lightning social media manager Kinsey Janke really encapsulate what I mean.
As the old saying goes, you catch more flies with honey than vinegar. David Cohen, General Counsel for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers feels the same way when connecting with other professionals on Twitter.
"Always be positive," Cohen believes. "If you see someone proudly posting about an accomplishment or something good, congratulate them. It is a small gesture that can be the start of or a great builder of relationship."
Think of something you want to tweet. Now answer this question: why do you want to say that? Your motive shouldn't be to make somebody or something look bad but to prove what value that YOU bring to the conversation.
I'll fully admit when I joined Twitter a few years back, I treated it like I was talking into a void. I flooded my friends' timelines with all my football and music takes I thought the world immediately needed to know (they didn't) or retweeting memes that I liked. There's wasn't a lot of thought behind what I was saying, I was just adding noise. Now, I try to take the time to think about what it is I'm really trying to add to the topic before I just throw a thought out there.
"Be Intentional," Jeff Mason, Communications Coordinator for Athletics at the University of Central Missouri told me. This line from Kevin DeShazo sticks with me in everything I do now and Twitter is no exception. "I use Tweetdeck to schedule posts throughout the day so I’m constantly ‘on’ in my following’s feed. I have a specific career path in mind and, in turn, tweet about specific topics that interest me and those I’m looking to interact with."
Dan Werly, Managing Editor of The White Bronco, gave me a similar piece of advice: "Whatever your industry is, find a way to add original content and expertise to the discussion. For me, I am able to occasionally can do this digging into public court filings or imparting a unique point of view that I learned as a lawyer in the sports industry. Making yourself a unique and valuable voice on the topics you are interested in will lead to exponential growth in interaction with those you are seeking to reach."
Don't feel like you have to be something you're not in order to have a professional Twitter profile. Nobody can tell you what to and what not to say, or like, or tweet about. What I think it comes down to, on top of being active and easy to access is taking that extra second to think how you can say what you want to say in an interesting and clean way without putting down your fellow people within (as well as outside) your professional circle.
Thank you to anybody that's read all three parts of this series! I'm sure we'll be exploring professional uses for social media further in some form or another down the road as well.
For now, I'll leave you with this quote from Katie Cavender, Assistant Commissioner of Strategic Communications with the Mountain West Conference, as I feel it wraps up everything we've talked about pretty nicely.
"Social media provides you with the opportunity to build an audience and a network and you should be mindful on how it can positively or negatively impact both the personal and professional aspects of your life. Think hard about what you want your story to be, what you value and what you want to be known for. That personal brand should absolutely be reflected in your social media presence."