Note: This is the final post in a four-part tech chat series about Twitter for evaluators. The first post explained the components and language of Twitter. The second post walked you through how to create your profile. The third post reviewed more advanced tips and tricks for engaging others and managing your content. This fourth post ties it all together with strategies for networking on Twitter.

Now that you’ve set up your Twitter profile and explored the basic and advanced functions of the social media platform you may still be asking yourself, “how can Twitter help advance my career?” I’m here to help you!
As mentioned in the first post of this series, there are a number of benefits of using Twitter professionally:

  • Network with other professionals
  • Raise awareness of an issue
  • Showcase your skills
  • Reach new audiences outside of evaluation
  • Disseminate evaluation findings
  • Crowdsource ideas with other professionals outside your immediate network
  • Keep up with the latest trends in the field
  • Find new collaborators and clients
  • Follow the work of your favorite companies and colleagues
  • Learn about training opportunities and conferences

Alright, I’ll admit that all sounds super easy on paper but it not always that simple in practice. Below are a few ways to help you engage with others online.

Identify a purpose

While it’s tempting to jump on Twitter and start retweeting and liking every post you see, it’s important to think about the purpose of your Twitter profile, which is to create (or advertise) your professional identity and brand. Choose a few topics to follow initially and stay away from contentious topics while you build your following. Although there’s nothing like a dramatic tweet war to draw quick attention to a profile, this is likely not the type of attention you are looking for as you launch. And remember that people only see the actual words you type, not your intention so choose your tweets carefully!
When thinking about what to post, consider these four formats to start:

  • Ask a question
  • Comment on a tweet
  • Provide a call to action
  • Share information

Be authentic

Another thing that goes along with identifying your purpose is being authentic. Building a professional identity on Twitter is all about what makes you unique. Honor and embrace what you bring to the table rather than trying to impersonate others. People value authenticity. Don’t believe me? Check out Brene Brown’s work.

“As you start building your ‘brand’ on Twitter, think about why people are following or talking to you. Are you an expert in a particular industry? Are you opinionated? Funny? Do you share great news articles or interesting photos? The bottom line: Be authentic and true to your values and you’ll quickly become a valuable member of the Twitter community.” (Mashable)

Locate power users

Find out who the power users and main influencers are in your field and follow them. Get a feel for the types of content they share and who they are following. Check out the resources that are being shared. Then, as described above, retweet a post that inspired you, ask the author of a newly released report a question, or retweet a post with a key quote as the comment. If you’re feeling really brave, send that power user a direct message (DM) and begin a conversation.

Follow your dream organizations

I have a whole list of organizations where I would love to work someday. I also have a list of CEOs that I find inspiring and would love to meet. I make sure to follow these accounts so I can keep up with the work they are doing and learn about potential job opportunities. This helps me to be prepared if I run into a representative from the organization at a conference or event. If you follow the accounts, you will be better able to comment on a new report or initiative the organization just released or launched. There’s really no better way to impress a recruiter than to know what they represent!

Participate in Twitter Chats

A Twitter Chat is a live conversation that takes place on Twitter at a certain time on a specific topic using a common hashtag. This is an opportunity to meet and engage with others who are interested in similar topics. Once you become a regular attendee, you will have a new network of virtual colleagues.

Macro social workers meet weekly for a Twitter Chat (#MacroSW) about systems and policy change. You can view the chat archives from past discussions here.
The Science Communication Journal Club (#SciCommJC) group hosts monthly Twitter Chats. Follow them on Twitter (@scicomm_jc) for more information.

  • Click here to find out about other Twitter Chat topics
  • Click here to learn more about hosting a Twitter Chat

Engage in conference discussions

If being a professional conference attendee was a job, I would like to sign up right now. There are few things I enjoy more than learning and learning from others. Unfortunately, there never seems to be enough time or funding to attend all of the events I would like to. Twitter to the rescue!

By following the conference hashtag, you are able to keep up with the conversation and presentations. I’ve done this and even had someone attending respond on Twitter to ask me what I wanted to learn about! It’s amazing how much you can learn from a Twitter feed. If you want to learn more, you can always follow-up with a certain presenter or look up the resources posted online.
Recent conference hashtags include:

  • American Evaluation Association: #Eval17
  • American Public Health Association: #APHA2017
  • Association for Public Policy Analysis & Management: #APPAM2017
  • Tableau Conference: #Data17

Upcoming conference hashtags include:

  • American Society for Public Administration (March 9-13, 2018): #ASPA2018
  • Eastern Evaluation Research Society (April 29-May 1, 2018): #EERS18
  • Research and Eval Conference on Self-Sufficiency (May 30-June 1, 2018): #RECS2018

Once you have mastered these techniques, you will be on your way to networking like a boss on Twitter. Remember to tweet to share content (visuals, reports, links, etc.), ask questions, comment on other posts, and reach out to new colleagues.
I would love to hear from you! What strategies do you use when networking on Twitter?