Twitter is a micro-blogging platform and it’s a little different from any other online or social media tool. When people first begin using it, it can seem overwhelming and confusing. How can you really type anything of substance in 140 characters or less?

The first thing I usually advise is that you take some time getting familiar with how it all works. Put up a picture of yourself, find some others to follow, and “tweet” some updates. It may seem a little like you are talking to yourself to do this especially if you are not being followed by anyone else. But it helps to see activity when someone comes upon your page and is making a decision whether to follow you or not.

Once you have observed and participated a little, there are a few things you can do to help you build relationships. Why is that so important? It all goes back to establishing that know, like and trust factor. People like to do business with those they know, like and trust, right? Here are some of the ways to use Twitter to create rapport and get more visibility for your business:

1. Give value.

Share links, offer advice and answer questions. I usually suggest a balance of 85% non-promotional tweets to 15% promotional tweets. When you are sharing interesting tidbits, they do not have to (and should not) be all about your services and offerings. On Twitter, people are looking to learn more about you the person, not just you the business owner. Of course, once they feel that they know you better, they are more willing to eventually buy from you!

2. Engage others.

Ask questions, use the @ function to spark conversations and re-tweet others’ messages. This helps people get to know you, but it is also a chance for you to demonstrate your expertise. You don’t need to outright sell in order for others to see that you have something of value to offer them. Before you know it, others will be re-tweeting (sharing) your helpful information with others, leading to more visibility for you.

3. Use your profile to your advantage.

You are able to link to your website in your profile as well as include a small blurb about who you are and what it is you do. Although you don’t have a ton of space to write here, be sure to give a little snapshot of your personal self as well as your professional self. This is a great way to get others to explore your offerings, become your subscribers or clients and boost your traffic.

Most of all, remember that Twitter is a place to be you, listen, respond and be helpful. The results for your bottom line may not be immediate, but you are building your reputation and strengthening relationships each time you participate. And that’s great for business!

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