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Twitter has become a mainstay of social media and an excellent way of networking, getting work, and finding out information. However, if it can be pretty daunting as a first time user and you may find yourself giving up at first glance.

So, here are five tips I’ve gathered from my years at the twitter wheel and some ideas on how to get yourself an account that does great things for you and your career.

1. Get a platform

While you may not have hundreds of people following you yet and your twitter list consists of your family and a friend, a platform will come very much in handy once you get going. Consider applications like Tweetdeck for the PC, or Destroy Twitter for the netbook. Familiarise yourself with the way they work and set it up exactly how you want it.

2. Find people to follow

Search for people in your industry, look at the people they are following, and follow those that suit your needs. You can glean a lot of information about a person from their profile. On your Twitter page you can also allocate them to a specific group. So, if you work in publishing for example, you can follow editors and create a List entitled Editor and allocate them to it.

You can then dedicate a column in your Twitter application to those people so you can easily track their tweets. Consider using an application like that aggregates tweets from a specific list and that makes all the tweets very easy to read.

3. Take time

Respond to people who reply to you or mention your tweets, form relationships and be polite. Twitter follows the same rules of engagement on a social level as any gathering of people and polite, thankful twitterers are more likely to be followed and respected.

Take the time to respond to relevant tweets, to build up relationships and to add something to the conversation. Twitter can be a massive time sink so manage your time online carefully. Do not overtweet about banal daily activities or your business.

4. Learn more

The internet is a repository of Twitter-based articles and information. It is genuinely worth your while to spend a few hours each week reading up on, and following, good advice. Find out what works and what works for you, and build on it.

5. Don’t sweat the small stuff

It sounds trite, but it is true. While having six thousand followers is an amazing feat, it doesn’t say anything if you aren’t getting anything from them – whether it is work or friendship. Quality followers who interact with you and inspire you are worth far more than that.

Don’t get caught up in worrying why nobody has replied to you, or retweeted you, rather focus on getting the relationships right.

There is a lot of ground to cover in the Twitterverse and I’ll be looking at many of the different aspects over the next few weeks. Twitter is a superb tool for business and social purposes and you can get so much from it, no matter what technology you prefer or where you are. Be it in the air with your EP121, on a train with your Eee PC 1015PEM, or at home with your RoG machine, you can tweet and read…

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