For millennials raised on AOL Instant Messenger and Facebook, the idea of face-to-face professional networking can be scary. The important role nonverbal communication plays in human interaction is well documented.  This is one of several reasons why face-to-face networking tends

For millennials raised on AOL Instant Messenger and Facebook, the idea of face-to-face professional networking can be scary.

The important role nonverbal communication plays in human interaction is well documented.  This is one of several reasons why face-to-face networking tends to allow people to build stronger relationships. But that doesn’t mean online networking is useless. In addition to initiating relationships, online networking tools, such as topic-specific Twitter chats, can help professionals prepare for in-person networking events.

Here’s how they do that:

Improve your ability to focus

If you’re like me, you do about 18 things at a time when you’re on the computer. For example, just while writing this post, I’ve responded to emails, sent LinkedIn invitations, checked my feed on Brazen Careerist and had a conversation with my mom.

Though distractions are sure to be abundant while participating in a Twitter chat, Maria Elena Duron, chief engagement officer of the marketing firm Buzz 2 Bucks, said it is important to pay attention and avoid other activities during a chat, just like you would during an in-person networking event.  “Steer clear of multi-tasking,” said Duron, who was an early participant in the well known #journchat and went on to establish #brandchat. “You’ll miss the great benefits of the chat if your attention is diluted.”

Help you learn to be patient

It can be challenging to contribute to a community that doesn’t respond immediately with what you want (i.e., a job or internship opportunity). However, being patient will pay off.

Also, like any networking event, you have to go into a Twitter chat with the idea that you’re there to talk about a topic or issue, not just to find a job. If you happen to find an opportunity along the way, that’s an added bonus.

For Duron, positioning and building a reputation as an industry expert has been one of the biggest gains of Twitter chats. Just like in-person networking events, Twitter chats present an opportunity to establish deeper connections, she said.

Hone your engagement skills

Doing a little observation before jumping in to a chat never hurts, but when you engage, make sure you’re contributing something substantive to the conversation.

New York City-based public relations professional Alexandria Hunt, who started participating in Twitter chats earlier this year, offered this advice: “Look at the chats as an opportunity to speak your opinions as well as network with professionals. After all, it’s all about the networking! Have fun with it!”

This is also a good way to think about face-to-face events. No matter how stressed you might feel about meeting others you don’t yet know, find a way to make it fun so it feels less like a chore.

Finally, just as with face-to-face networking, it’s just as important — perhaps more important — to engage after the chat. “The fortune is in the follow-up,” Duron said. “Follow people from the chat that you found interesting, and stay engaged in conversation via Twitter even away from the chat. That is really how you work your network

What other Twitter chat lessons translate to in-person networking situations?

Ruth Harper is a member of the Brazen Life Contributor Network.

0 Comments

  1. Katie

    You know, I can’t multitask. Not even a little bit. Right now, I’m SUPPOSED to be doing some research, but then I’m all “HEY! SHINY OBJECT. I LOVE BRAZEN!”

    That being said, another one of my fails is being able to think on my feet, unless it’s some sort of joke. I can make horrible jokes with the best of them, but with intelligent commentary, the internet has given me an excuse to be able to think things through. Do you know how many times I read an e-mail before I send it?

    Twitter does enable me to get my point across quickly and to the point. I’m wordy (can you tell?) so the microblogging and having to fit everything in in 140 characters or less really does strictify (made that word up) my use of explanation.

  2. Kristen

    I am just learning to participate in Twitter chats but I find that participating can annoy some of my followers, resulting in me losing them. Any tips on how to avoid that?

    • Jaclyn Schiff

      I’ve seen some people who will warn their followers before a period of heavy tweeting just to give them a heads up. I know a reporter who has a separate Twitter account for covering breaking news. I guess you could do the same thing for Twitter chats – have one an account just for that and then include your regular account information in the bio, but I think this could get a bit tricky.

    • Ruth A. Harper

      I agree with Jaclyn in that warning followers beforehand is a good idea. Another suggestion is to tweet, along with your “warning,” that followers can “mute” you during the chat using mute tools such as muuter.com. However, my favorite suggestion is to only tweet insights/RTs that others would find useful or interesting. Twitter chats are good experiences, but you still should keep it interesting for followers.

  3. Kristina Summers

    Twitter chats force you tothink quickly on your feet and also help you to improve your hand eye coorination as far as typing without errors. I like to be a part of them. You also really develop relationshipswith with people you have frequent chats with – such as SoloPR. I love to keep coming back and seeing the same people taking part. It is just like actually meeting up with them.

    • Ruth A. Harper

      I really like that point of chats forcing you to think quickly on your feet because that’s something I’ve struggled with recently is learning to think of something to say within a few seconds!

  4. Megan

    I’ve only tried Twitter chat once. And it was insanity! I can handle a chat room setting but with all the RTs of moderator questions and everyone all responding to a single person’s question – it’s a bit much for me. And I’m with Kristen on not wanting to annoy the bejeebies out of my Twitter followers.

    • Ruth A. Harper

      It can be insanity, for sure! I have to be in a fast-thinking mood to really participate heavily. But sometimes I’ll observe more passively and only chime in if a particular question or topic really strikes me.

  5. Scott Schumann DDS

    Twitter chats actually give you a chance to practice in a safe environment and gain confidence. They can also ferret out imposters if you are looking to buy a product such as an information product. But when it comes to the face-to-face chat nothing gives you confidence like a great smile.

    • Ruth A. Harper

      Exactly! Virtual events are absolutely useful, but nothing replaces seeing someone’s face for yourself.

  6. Admin Forums

    Twitter is a great tool to achieve anything you want, this article is really helping me understand how much you can achieve.

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