When I started work as a graduate, I deleted my Twitter account. I remember the moment very clearly. I was worried about appearing professional, and thought that now I had finally started the coveted grad job, it was best to cull my social media footprint.
Fast-forward two years, and my legal career had started to lose its shine. I had no idea what I wanted to do, and was feeling increasingly trapped in a decision that I made when I was the ripe old age of 18.
I decided to start blogging about my journey, and (with some hesitation) activated my Twitter account again. Little did I know at the time that this would be a key part of my career transition.
So how did I tweet my way to a new career?
There’s heaps of posts out there on how to build a Twitter following and Twitter dos and don’ts. This post isn’t one of them.
What I am going to share is how I built a Twitter following from scratch and used this as leverage to meet awesome people, build a network of support and ultimately change careers.
The first step is obvious, get online and own your online space. I am horrified by how many people still share the view I had as a graduate. If you want to be known for something, you have to claim your online space. Plus, it’s free! And if you are savvy with how you are using your time online, I bet that you can make the time then reap the rewards from building your online tribe.
Be authentic. At the start, I was acutely aware of the tension between being a corporate lawyer and also being open and honest online. It can take a while to find your voice, and you know what, that’s OK! Just keep on tweeting and connecting. Influencers on Twitter want to connect with the real you.
Be active and give, give, give! It’s easy to fall into the habit of simply retweeting other people’s awesome posts, especially when you are busy. If you want to establish a name for yourself on Twitter, you are going to have to fit some of your own thoughts into those 140 characters. Share other people’s content that you like and tag them with their Twitter handle so they get a notification. Don’t be afraid to put in the groundwork! If there is someone you would like to build a relationship with, read his or her work and then share it – multiple times! If they ask their followers a question, write back with your thoughts. Consider using a Twitter list to keep up to date with the key people you want to connect with.
Focus on real engagement. Don’t worry about how many followers you have – followers are only one metric to measure your success. I measure my Twitter success by how I can convert a Twitter connection into “IRL”, that’s In Real Life.
If someone is tweeting your stuff, or is in the area that you want to work in, why not ask them for a coffee? People are constantly amazed when I tell them that I used Twitter to meet a number of key individuals in a variety of areas when I was working out what I wanted to do. Of course, I was safe about it – I knew that I was meeting with legitimate people – but some of these people were instrumental in connecting me with people who could help me, sharing ideas and even just inspiring me to keep going.
I have received some fantastic advice from real thought leaders who were willing to chat to me after connecting on Twitter. For example, the other week I met Trevor Young, the PR Warrior, because I bit the bullet and asked him for coffee after he tweeted my ’50 coffees’ post (it worked out pretty well for me!). It’s pretty cool to think that someone like Trevor is willing to take time out of his day to share heaps of great stuff with me about branding, PR and content creation. The best thing about Twitter is it gives you access to people who would have previously been almost impossible to reach, particularly as I wanted to move out of legal circles and meet people in a whole variety of industries.
Most people are incredibly generous with their time and expertise – and Twitter is the perfect tool to start building relationships with like-minded people.
My key piece of advice? Get started now, and don’t waste this opportunity!
PS. You might have guessed it by now, but I have resigned! Over the next few weeks I will share my tips with you on how I changed my career and all the things I have learned along the way. Make sure you check back in soon and sign up to my email list to keep in touch.