We tend to focus a lot on LinkedIn, when it comes to professional networking to benefit your career.

This makes the most sense because LinkedIn was developed for this exact purpose. Many other social networking websites are just that – social networking websites, and not professional networking sites. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t use other social networks to help you expand your professional network.

When looking for tips and ways to grow your network on Twitter, you will immediately find many services, applications and websites that allow you to sign-up for free trials that are sure to expand your network.

However, we like to keep things organic, and focus on building your Twitter network by developing relationships and contacts with the right people in your industry.

Without further ado, here are our 7 mighty methods to grow your network on Twitter.

1. Connect your networks

Starting off at the basics – the very first step in growing your Twitter network is to connect it with one of your other networks.

Twitter allows you to connect with contacts that you already have in your e-mail address book, or even your connections on LinkedIn. Either one of these options is a great way to find connections that you’ve already made, in a new online setting.

2. Create your bio

Who are you? Put together your short bio on Twitter. This bio should include a professional picture of yourself (something similar to your LinkedIn profile picture), as well as a description of who you are.

Between your full name and your Twitter username, your potential followers don’t know much about you. This is where you can change that. In your bio, you should mention what you do for a living, what your interests are, and what you are striving towards. This will set the tone for your stream of tweets.

Keyword searches – Also keep in mind that when people are conducting searches on Twitter, they will be directed to the profiles with the search terms in the full name, Twitter username or bio.

This is where you should use keywords that you want to be associated with such as “Business Development Consultant” or “Marketing Specialist”.

3. Create lists

Twitter’s List function allows you to create lists of Twitter users with different purposes. We recommend starting off with two key lists.

The first list should focus on companies, employers and recruiters in your industry/field. When a job posting comes up with one of the companies, or if a recruiter is currently searching for a potential candidate, they are likely to tweet it.

Keeping a list of these employers and recruiters will assist you in staying on top of current openings, as well as staying up to date with company information. If you are determined to work for one of the companies, chances are you will be interviewing for a role with them.

A great way to make a lasting impression in an interview is to show your in-depth knowledge of the company itself. By following them on Twitter, you can stay updated with company activities to ensure you don’t miss a beat.

The second list should focus on influencers in your industry. This could be professionals that you look up to, or even senior level executives at your current company, or companies you hope to work for.

These influencers will likely be tweeting about current issues and challenges in your industry/field, and following their tweets is the first step in establishing a connection with them.

4. Build relationships

Now the whole reason you got onto Twitter in the first place was to build relationships, so now it’s time to do just that.

The first step in building a relationship on Twitter is to follow the person in question. Once you press the Follow button, their tweets will appear regularly in your Twitter Feed.

The second step is to Re-Tweet any of their tweets that you find interesting and would like to share with your own group of followers.

You can also Quote their Tweets, and add in your own commentary when re-posting for all of your followers to read. If you have feedback that you would like to direct back to the person in question, then you can Reply to their tweet with an @ Mention.

Though Twitter is all about remaining in the public eye, you can also privately respond to the person through a Direct Message. Direct Messages are a great way to initiate a conversation with a potential connection and show your genuine interest in what they have to say.

5. Your tweets

So far, we’ve really focused on who you should follow and how you should reach out to them. After reaching out to them, you are hoping that they will follow you, but what about what you can offer them? This is where you have to put some thought into what you plan on posting in your own Twitter Steam.

We recommend being as helpful, and as consistent as possible. If you read an interesting article or blog post regarding your industry or profession, tweet the link to the article with your thoughts.

If you come across an inspirational quote, share it with your followers. Offer helpful advice from your own life experiences and anything else that you think will be interesting to your audience of followers.

Along with what you are posting, it is also important to think about when you are posting on Twitter.

Twitter is all about timeliness, you can’t fall off the face of the earth for weeks at a time, because your followers will forget about you. This doesn’t mean that you have to send out a tweet every hour on the hour, it just means to keep it up to once a day at the very least.

6. Twitter chats

Now that we’ve established who you are, who you’re following, who follows you and what you have to offer them – we can take it to the next level.

There are many other ways for you to get more involved in Twitter, and one of the most popular ones is Twitter Chats. You can find out about these chats by searching for them on Google, or even by paying attention to the influencers that you’re following as they’re most likely involved in them as well.

What is a Twitter Chat? A Twitter Chat is a designated time where people with similar interests discuss a topic by including the exact same #hashtag in each of their tweets to ensure they are added to the chat’s stream of tweets.

This is a great way to meet even more people in your professional network and because you met them in the world of Twitter, following each other is the next logical step.

7. Twitter Alerts

You can set up alert emails to be sent to you when people are tweeting about keywords that you’re interested in, such as “Accounting Jobs”. An easy (and free) way to do this is to sign up for Twilert.

This is a web application that sends you e-mail updates of tweets containing the keywords that you’ve chosen to follow. This is also a great way to discover new users who tweet about topics you’re interested in.

Social networking is no longer just a pastime, it’s a whole new world where people are making connections and building professional relationships online instead of face-to-face. Don’t get left behind, get in on the action, and use these tips to help you get started.

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