If you’re like many, you’re standing by observing this social networking frenzy – nothing short of a blitz – and wondering, what IS this stuff?? And why would I want to “follow” my local TV station anyway? It’s a big waste of time, right? Not so fast…

The simple fact is, there may soon come a time when having a Twitter account will be as critical to a business person as having a Blackberry. No longer an option, but a necessity. So get past your disdain for that which you’re not informed about and just dig in! After all, there’s reason so many people are using it. Here’s the real bottom line: if you have anything to sell and you resist having a presence on Twitter, you’re missing a valuable opportunity to generate interest in your product or service. And if that “product” is YOU?….hello? Well, let’s just say if you’re looking for work today you need all the help you can get. This is about building your personal brand so others know who you are and what you do.

So just what is it, anyway? Twitter is a social networking and microblogging service that allows you answer the question, “What are you doing?” by sending short text messages 140 characters in length, called “tweets”, to your friends, or “followers.”

Think of twitter as a river of commentary that you can dip into as needed to either get or share information or thoughts. The unbounded nature of Twitter offers a myriad of opportunities and resources that can be effective if leveraged properly.

How do I get started? Answer: in 3 easy steps – plus a bonus

ONE: Begin by watching 2 videos here by Michael Long (also known as @theredrecruiter) these videos do an awesome job of patiently walking you thru getting your account and settings – in the first video, together with tips on how to use it and what the main aspects of getting around on twitter and tweeting in the second video.

TWO: Sign up. It’s free. Go to http://twitter.com. Choose a username. USE YOUR REAL NAME. It will lead to better connections with people and will keep you from any temptation you may have to use something “cute” or otherwise not appropriate for your job search. And this is part of your overall personal branding, so who do you want them to see?

THREE: Next, start following relevant people. Use search.twitter.com either to find people, recruiters and other career professionals, people who work in and around your industry or people who work at the companies you’re targeting. You can use this site to search by “hashtag” (you’ll learn more about that after you sign up!), any kind of terminology, or user name if you know it. If you are looking for a job opportunity, follow and connect with these people to learn what it’s like to work at your target companies and whether they may be hiring.

FOUR: Download Tweetdeck as well – to receive your tweets – it’s an invaluable tool to help you organize them and also to search for relevant people. Most important, it allows you to see when you are mentioned or someone is talking to you (easy to miss in the stream of Twitter). In addition it allows you to also filter the people you follow into “groups” – important if you follow those in divergent areas or for different needs. For example, you could have a group for your work/job interests, one for your hobby (scuba perhaps?) and one for your kids’ schools and extracurricular interests.

Twitter is just like anything else; you get back what you put into it…and maybe a little more! If you’re looking for a quick fix, Twitter isn’t it. If you truly embrace it, your Twitter community can introduce you to a whole new world of connections and opportunities. Build relationships. Add value. Be open to the possibilities…You just might be amazed by what happens.

PS – you can start by following @kinetixhr ;-)

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