[IMGCAP(1)]In 2009, I began my journey to build my own firm. The problem was that I started without any clients or prospects — just a dream. Then, I joined Twitter.

In just a little over a year, here’s how my business has grown with Twitter:

• I landed my largest client after searching for contributors to my community blog.

• I was asked to speak to a local women’s group, which led to two clients and a great referral source for future business.

• I’ve connected with CPAs from all over the country, and their advice has been instrumental in building my business.

Here are the tips I’ve learned that can make using Twitter successful for anyone:

• We care about YOU, not your company. Most often, we decide to do business with people, not the company. You have to show the real you. I try to show off my personality as much as possible, which means not limiting my tweets to accounting. I don’t mind blurring the lines between professional and personal life because I know my Twitter connections will become even stronger.

• Twitter isn’t a billboard ad, it’s a networking function. When you go to a networking function, you deliver your elevator speech and then you try to find a common interest to talk about. On Twitter, I let my profile be my elevator speech and my tweets deliver my personality and show off my interests. The biggest offense on Twitter is over-selling. Don’t worry about selling yourself. Worry about making meaningful connections—the sales will follow.

• Learn the Twitter etiquette. Learn about replies, retweets, and direct messages. Twitter has a great help section that can get you started. Twitter has great features. But if you use them inappropriately, you may end up doing more damage to your name than good. Remember, you catch more bees with honey than vinegar, so be polite and make sure to thank people for mentioning your name or retweeting something you have shared.

• Engage. Make sure to ask questions and join conversations. I try to split up my tweets into thirds. One third is conversations with followers using the reply feature. One third is sharing articles or other interesting tweets using the retweet function. And the last third is original content about my life and work.

• Quality wins over quantity. I don’t want you to spend your life on Twitter, but I do want you to share your life on Twitter. Try to update your status often enough to stay fresh, but say something meaningful so that others will want to listen.

• Take it a step further. You can make the Twitter experience better by first using a third-party program like HootSuite or TweetDeck. This will help save you time. I also suggest taking your conversations offline. I’ve offered to meet some of my followers over lunch, and I’ve attended Tweetups, which are networking events of local Tweeters. Finally, Twitter is about communities, so always look for ways to build a better, stronger community. One way I do that is by using hashtags. Just recently, I was able to connect with local CPAs at a conference, because I included the conference’s hashtag in my tweets.

At the end of the day, Twitter is just another platform for connecting and building relationships with people. And people buy from people. Apply my tips and use the platform effectively, and those people will come to you.

 

Cathy Iconis, CPA, is president of Iconis Group LLC, an outsourced accounting and consulting firm based in Atlanta, Ga. She can be reached at ciconis@iconisgroup.com. Her Twitter name is @CathyIconis.

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