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Generating Demand Skills Worldwide

How to build relationships with key business contacts using Twitter

Before we get to the core of this blog, I have a little social experiment to run. Pull up your Twitter feed—of the first 10 accounts that recently tweeted, how many accounts do you regularly follow? For me, it’s only one. I’m guessing that many of you will also report low numbers.

After all, the average number of accounts that a Twitter user follows is approximately 102. It simply takes too much time to regularly follow the feeds of 102 Twitter users.

As a social practitioner for PartnerWorld, I often ask IBMers and Business Partners whether they have an active professional Twitter account. Most are not active on Twitter, and tell me that they aren’t active because they simply don’t have the time to use Twitter consistently.

For busy professionals, Twitter lists are a game-changer. They help you build relationships with key business contacts in an hour or less a day. The magic of Twitter lists is this: they allow you to scroll through content only from your selected accounts.

You can create up to 1,000 private or public lists on Twitter around a certain topic. For example, a private Twitter list can be created to monitor content from potential customers. Since Twitter has recently overtaken LinkedIn as the number one social site for salespeople, it is important to build relationships with potential customers on Twitter. Creating a Twitter list for them makes it much easier to follow their content regularly, interact with them, and initiate conversation when possible.

Twitter lists can also be used to maintain relationships with your current clients. By regularly monitoring a Twitter list for your existing clients, you can easily interact in real-time with their content, strengthen the relationship and keep yourself top-of-mind when they have future business needs.

To create a Twitter list, go to your Lists page via the “profile” icon drop-down menu in the top right navigation bar. From the Lists page, click “Create list.” Be sure to add a helpful name and description for your list. To add or remove members, click the gear icon drop-down menu on a user’s profile and select “Add or remove from lists.” You don’t need to be following a user to add them to your list.

If one thing is certain in business, it’s that solid networking is a key to success. If you consider it a priority to build relationships with potential customers, colleagues, and thought leaders, you need to make a commitment to interact with these individuals both online and in person. Networking online includes responding to the ideas and news they share through Twitter, whether replying, favoriting, or retweeting their posts. By regularly responding to their posts online, you show that you truly care what they have to say on professional topics and consider their ideas and opinions valuable.

If you commit to regularly interacting with key business contacts on Twitter, you will unequivocally have a leg up on others in the crucial game of networking. And that leg up is significantly valuable. When professionals are making an important business decision, they turn first to their connections that they trust and interact with on a regular basis. By building a relationship on Twitter—and ideally following up in-person or over the phone—you can become a trusted professional for the key business contacts in your life. Is it worth an hour or less a day? The answer is clear.

Take the time today to create a Twitter list and begin interacting! And don’t forget to let me know what you think by using the comments feature below.

John McHenry (@IBMPartners)

John McHenry is a Social Practitioner within PartnerWorld’s Digital Content Marketing Team. He is responsible for managing PartnerWorld’s Twitter account @ibmpartners and the DCM Social Automation tool for Business Partners. He strives to develop innovative, platform-specific social media strategies that effectively engage Business Partners.

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