How I Used Twitter to Find a Literary Agent, Grow My Business and Fall In Love

by | Apr 30, 2015

By Alexis Grant (@AlexisGrant)

[Ed:] If you have the feeling you’re not getting everything you can out of Twitter, don’t miss the special offer at the end of this article.

You’ve probably heard the case against Twitter: that it’s a noise-filled tunnel where everyone spouts out useless facts about what their cat ate for breakfast.

But I bet if you asked someone who is truly using Twitter strategically what they’ve gotten from the network, they would be able to tell you things like:

  • Twitter helped me sign with a literary agent to represent my book.
  • Twitter got me onto Problogger’s list of 20 Bloggers to Watch.
  • Twitter put me in front of a hiring manager, who offered me a job.

And even:

  • Twitter helped me meet the love of my life, who is now my husband.

Those aren’t hypothetical examples; I hit each of those professional and personal milestones because of connections I made on this social network. And while I can’t promise you’ll meet a good-looking British guy and cut a Twitter-themed cake at your wedding, I can say with complete confidence that if you use Twitter in a thoughtful, strategic way, you will make meaningful connections that will help you build the career you want.

Here are a few tips for building relationships that matter on this social network:

  • Treat others like you’d like to be treated

    And no, I don’t mean be nice to other tweeps. I mean share the kind of information you’d like to read.

    The what-my-cat-ate-for-breakfast example is perfect here. Do you want to hear that kind of thing from people you follow? Probably not. Do you want to read complaints about their boss, who always reheats gross-smelling lunches in the office microwave? Not so much. What you’re likely interested in is advice and ideas for whatever it is you want to accomplish. Am I right?

    That’s the kind of information you should share, too. Think about what you like to read on Twitter, find a few people who do it well, and follow their lead.

    In social media speak, this is often called “providing value.” What value can you provide? What expertise can you share? What can you teach your followers? How can you inspire them?

    The value you provide doesn’t have to be original. In fact, you’re better off sharing other people’s ideas most of the time, so long as you credit those people, because they’ll see you spread the word about their blog post or quote or ebook, appreciate your efforts and likely help you in return.

  • Make a plan

    Don’t share information and follow others haphazardly. The people who get the most out of Twitter do so with a strategy. Sure, Twitter does lend itself to serendipity, but good things — and unexpected things — happen to people who put all the pieces in place.

    Here are two ways you can be strategic on Twitter:

    1. With the value you provide. In addition to sharing anything that’s interesting to you and might be valuable to others, think about what your target audience might want to learn from you.
       
      To figure this out, you first have to identify your target audience. Maybe you’re trying to build up a readership for your books. What types of readers do you want to attract, and what might they want to learn from you? Or perhaps you’re looking to position yourself as an expert in the tech space, with the goal of filling your online class with aspiring entrepreneurs. What can you share that will attract these types of people to you, so they follow you, interact with you, and eventually buy from you?

    2. With the types of people you target. Who do you want to connect with on Twitter? Who do you want to hire you, work with you, quote you, and more?

      Providing awesome information those types of people want to read is one way to get on their radar, but here’s an even more proactive approach: help them notice you. The best part is, you can do this in subtle ways, so they don’t even realize they’re on your hit list.

      Help them notice you by RTing their tweets, providing helpful answers to any questions they ask, and @mentioning them whenever you see the opportunity. These are all tactical steps. But first — and for many people, this is the hardest part — you have to figure out who you want to notice you.

      Whenever I identify people I want to notice me, I add those tweeps to what I like to call a Notice-Me List. (Tip to save you from massive embarrassment: Make sure this list is private, so those people don’t know they’re on the list.) Creating this list makes it easy for me to log into my Twitter app (I use Hootsuite), see what those people have tweeted about, and find ways to engage with them. It’s an efficient, effective way to make real connections online.

      This, by the way, is exactly how I got the job offer that I mentioned at the beginning of this post. I identified the hiring manager I wanted to notice me, and found ways to subtly interact with him on Twitter and show my expertise until he followed me back… which allowed me to send him a direct message about the job opening I knew he was hiring for. That led to an in-person interview and an offer!

  • Be YOU. Let your personality shine

    Sure, there’s such a thing as over-sharing, but most Twitter newbies have the opposite problem: they don’t share enough, which makes them boring.

    Don’t be afraid to infuse your tweets with your personality. This applies both to the types of information you share, as well as the language you use to share it. In the digital world, this is known as being “authentic” — but if you ask me, that word has become cliche. After all, if you’re trying to be authentic, you’re probably trying too hard; instead, you should let yourself be YOU.

    Letting myself be ME is exactly how I met my husband on Twitter. I typically stick to tweets about entrepreneurship and careers and writing and other semi-professional topics I know my readers are interested in. But on one occasion — in a moment of weakness after a first date didn’t go as smoothly as I’d hoped — I asked Twitter to find me a guy in my city around my age, someone who was outdoorsy and smart. Oh, and I asked for stubble, too.

    If this doesn’t sell you on the power of Twitter, nothing will: Twitter delivered. It delivered the love of my life making me so glad I had that moment of weakness, that moment of authenticity, of truly letting the real me shine.

    I can’t say that connection was strategic, but part of the reason this worked was because I’d developed a network of followers who loved the outdoors and travel, just like I did… so the right person happened to see my tweet. This is the same kind of luck you can create for yourself by building a community of people who share your interests.

  • So many people have asked me how to replicate this luck that I created a course on how to use Twitter to reach your goals: How to Become a Twitter Power User. It begins on Monday, May 4. I hope you’ll join us!

Special Offer for Readers of The Book Designer

[From Joel]: I think Twitter has reached such a high level of acceptance with so many important functions in our culture that every author needs to know how to use Twitter to his or her advantage.

So I’ve teamed up with Alexis to encourage you to get up to speed with Twitter by taking her great How to Become a Twitter Power User course.

Twitter

Click any of the links to the course on this page and, when you enroll in the course, I’ll give you a free copy of my webinar, The Hub and Outpost Method of Social Media Marketing. This is a $37.00, 47-minute video that will show you how to use Twitter and other social media sites to create a nonstop content and engagement machine.Hub and Outpost

This special offer runs until Sunday night, May 3, 2015, and the course will start the next day, Monday, May 4. So go check it out now, and start to realize for yourself the benefits of Twitter mastery.


 

Alexis Grant headshotAlexis Grant is an entrepreneurial writer and digital strategist who is fascinated by the new world of (online) work and not only writes about how we can use it to our advantage but lives it. You can learn more about her at her site Socialexis.

 
Photo: bigstockphoto.com. Course hyperlink contains my affiliate code.

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1 Comment

  1. Finnegan Daley

    Worthwhile advice! I’m an old guy, kind of floundering around here in the Blogosphere and Twittersphere. Nice to get a kind word of direction from someone who has had great success. Thank you!

    Reply

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