LinkedIn bills itself as the largest professional network, but Twitter, whose tagline is simply, “what’s happening,” easily wins for creating and nurturing relationships.
Here are three primary reasons why.
1. The easiest introduction ever – When you come across a piece of writing or video or presentation that resonates, you send the link out on Twitter and attach that person’s Twitter handle. They’re notified and you get on their radar. That simple process often forms the genesis of a relationship.
Same deal when you follow someone. Don’t despair when someone doesn’t follow you back. Don’t even expect it. And if they do, be ready to live up to the privilege by consistently sending out useful content and engaging. Instead, view the follow as an initial touch, eye-contact, wave; an introduction.
My first tweet?
Checking out Lawyer2Lawyers The Pros & Cons of Twitter http://tinyurl.com/c4q49v
— Tim Baran (@tim_baran) March 28, 2009
I wasn’t savvy enough to credit them with Twitter handles but Bob and Kevin were among my first follows and we’ve since become friends and they remain two people in the legal space I deeply admire and respect. And it all started with a Twitter follow and a tweet. I could fill a book with similar stories. See: How Lawyers Use Twitter.
2. The relationship is not reciprocal – Twitter is unlike LinkedIn or Facebook where you send a “connection” request and wait for an affirmative reply. Twitter has one relationship only: Follower. A follow-back is nice but not important to the relationship or engagement.
LinkedIn is primarily for connecting with people you know as evidenced by the many times you wondered where a particular connection request came from and rejected it. And, except for a few LinkedIn stalwarts, the ones you do accept are usually “connect and forget.”
Twitter, on the other hand, is a fast-paced aisle where you get to meet and engage and learn and inform, and where you return to nurture relationships.
3. It’s a public forum – Entire stories in traditional media outlets are based on Twitter conversations. Have you ever heard or read a news item about a LinkedIn exchange?
Of course this has downsides, like the cesspool of comments that come from anonymous accounts or bravado haters. But they’re easy to avoid. Just don’t follow them. Or if they bother you, block them. They will no longer appear in your feed.
The public engagement provides unprecedented exposure and allows you to build a network of people wanting to connect with you. It can even lead to speaking gigs.
If you’re looking for a job or to fill a position, or to validate a connection, use LinkedIn. It’s great for that. If you want to build professional relationships, start engaging on Twitter.