You see so many people promoting programs that will help you “Gain 78,000 new Twitter followers this week” but what they don't tell you is that 77,500 of those followers will be porn sites and spam companies. Is that what you want flowing into your Twitter stream?  I guess as with most everything else in our lives, we are always looking for that magic pill that will transform our social media landscape into the land of milk and honey the day we create our accounts, and when it seems like “work” we get frustrated and abandon the flock.

In my book Gettin' Geeky with Twitter, I do share lots of directories, and sites where you can find large numbers of like-minded people to connect with.  The challenge for most people is you have to be very specific with your keywords to make it useful, and many people haven't taken the time to identify the keywords for their business to connect strategically with other people.  There are programs you can pay $20- $75 for to double your followers each day, but the real question is, “WHY?”  Why are you on Twitter?  What information are you providing to those who are following your updates, that will encourage them to listen to what you have to say, or are you just another bloke in their follower numbers that they ignore?

If you want to build a solid Twitter following, and you are not on Twitter to just have a million followers, then here are 10 tips to build connections authentically (that usually means more work):

1. Find and follow smart people in your industry.  Using Twitter's basic search (found on your Twitter homepage)

or through http://Search.Twitter.com type in a person's name or a keyword to find those peeps to follow.

2. Engage in conversation with those smart people.  Don't just read the information sent your way, but reply to a comment now and again.  You can only send a private or direct message (DM) to someone who is already following you, but you can always reply to a post they made.  This goes directly to them but also is seen by everyone else who is following your updates.

3. Retweet great content that you find from the people you choose to connect with.  This passes along great content to those who have chosen to follow your updates and by retweeting, you are complimenting the originator of the content putting you on their radar.

4. Personally respond to people who choose to follow you.  Yes this is time consuming, but when you are starting out, you want to take the time to see who they are and send a note thanking them for connecting.  I truly hate the autoresponder systems that send out a sales pitch welcoming me and asking me to buy something from them the moment I connect.  People know when it is a personal note- use their name, make a comment about their background or content to let them know you are a real person interested in real conversations.  I have gotten a bit lazy on doing this with every follower (well I just don't have enough time anymore to do this-but I do occasionally send out a few messages welcoming folks.  I do still check out each person that follows me (now using TweetDeck's New Follower column) and will see if they are someone I want to follow back, leave alone, or sometimes even block.  There are certain accounts I don't even want my name showing up on their FOLLOWING list!  Protect your brand.

5. Pay attention to the other people who are in conversations with those you are following.  If you are following Bob and Kim is having an intelligent conversation with him, check out Kim's profile and follow her.

6. Find Twitter-chat events that you re interested in, jump in on the conversation and follow like-minded people.  These are virtual events that are typically scheduled during a set time period  (example: Thursday evenings 7:30 pm-9:00pm CT is a lively Twitter chat with educators and corporate learning professionals and each tweet is tagged with #Lrnchat), but even outside of the event time, people will continue tagging tweets related to that group's discussion to be seen by those involved. You do not need to be invited or belong to an association to jump in on the conversation.  The reason you place the # mark before the keyword or letter group is to make it clickable.  Click on a few of these tags and it will take you to a search page listing tweets and peeps using that tag.  A great source of finding good people to connect with. (see last post LIST OF TWITTER-CHAT EVENTS)

7. Watch who folks recommend on Fridays.  You will notice lots of recommendations going out tagged with #FF or #FollowFriday.  This is a nice practice to allow others to see who you really want to promote.  You can also click on the tag (#FF or #FollowFriday) and see who folks recommend.  My rule of thumb is, if someone I respect recommends others, they are probably good folks to follow.  Not too hard.

8. Create a list on Twitter or a column using TweetDeck (or other third party tool), add folks to a list and then each day make a point to pay closer attention to a specific list.  For example, perhaps Monday is my “Virtual World friends list” and Tuesdays are for my “Tech-educators” list.  This way you don't let too much time go by without touching base with folks.  Again this may get a bit unrealistic after you are following several thousand, but a good practice to start and aim for.

9. Let people know you are on Twitter.  Add your Twitter-handle (@GinaSchreck) to the bottom of your email signature line, put a FOLLOW ME ON TWITTER  box (or widget) on your blog or website and add it to your business cards.  Sometimes we forget about the obvious.

10.  Provide GREAT content.  The best way to grow your followers and then keep them engaged after, is to provide great content.  My rule of thumb on any social media site is BE HELPFUL, BE INTERESTING or BE QUIET!

You will find more tips on building a successful Twitter nest and managing the flock in my latest book, GETTIN' GEEKY WITH TWITTER: Build Your Business and Manage Your Brand with Today's Hottest Social Media Tool. It is available in paperback or ebook on our website bookstore!

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