One tweet that I wrote two years ago got me into the office of a C-suite executive and launched one of the most important relationships in my business today. Here's what happened.
When Sheryl Sandberg's thought-provoking book, Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead was published two years ago, a female senior executive whom I'd been following on Twitter for a few months asked her followers to tweet about their "lean in" moments.
I replied with a tweet about how I had my baby while working and completing my MBA. An exchange of tweets followed. Then I sent her a direct message, asking if she would be willing to continue our chat over coffee. I heard back within the hour, and about a month later I was sitting in her office chatting about leaning in and other topics, including social media, my area of expertise.
She then referred me to a department head in her organization to explore an opportunity, which turned into consulting work. That assignment, in turn, led to two additional projects with the same organization. Needless to say, that executive has become a great supporter of my career.
Sure, I could have set up my meeting with her the old-fashioned way -- by networking or sending an unsolicited e-mail -- but Twitter helped me bypass potential obstacles and removed hierarchical barriers.
Whether you're planning your next career move or looking for new clients, establishing yourself as a thought leader on Twitter can give you an edge. But to take full advantage of Twitter, you need to get noticed by influential people. C-suite executives may be just a tweet away. Here are some ways to help you get their attention.
1. Cultivate connections
Relationships on Twitter, like those in real life, take time to show results. Engage your target audience in topics of interest to them through tweeting, retweeting and direct messaging. These Twitter tips will help guide you through your interactions. Make sure you have a solid Twitter connection with someone before you ask for a favour or reach out to set up an in-person meeting.
2. Do your homework
Research people before reaching out to them. Check their bio, be familiar with their blog and keep an eye on their tweets. Creating Twitter lists will help you organize the people that you follow and keep track of their tweets. To create a list, click on the "Lists" icon on your profile page. Then, click on "Create new list." Enter a list name (for example, "social media experts"), add a short description of your list and click "Save list." You can choose your list to be public or private. To add people to your list, click on "Add or remove from lists" from the drop-down menu under "More user actions" of their Twitter profile.
3. Add value
Retweeting is a great way to say that you like someone's tweet, but you can go one step further by adding value. One way to do that is to say why the tweet is worth reading. Example: "Don't be a jack of all Twitter subjects and a master of none. Plus 30 other #Twitter tips by @kenkrogue http://tinyurl.com/o5rzkk2." This can result in retweets from the original tweeter and perhaps some of his or her followers.
4. Be consistent
Position yourself as a thought leader through good content and genuine interactions that are consistent with your personal brand. For example, if your area of expertise is entrepreneurship, make the most of your tweets on that topic so people who follow you know what to expect. You can still share some random thoughts once in awhile, but generally stick to your beat. Consistency on Twitter and across other social media platforms will earn you credibility and make it easier for you to network with executives.
5. Strike while the iron is hot
You can set up Twitter to send notifications to your cell phone when a particular person tweets. To do that, click "Turn on mobile notifications" from the drop-down menu under "More user actions" on their Twitter profile. By sending someone a direct message on Twitter when that person is online, you increase the chances of a prompt response.
A version of this article was originally posted on Forbes.com.
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