Twitter for networking business: getting ready to step into a professional world

NU PRSSA, Entrepreneurs Club, and IDEA presented a social marketing event #trendingNU at Northeastern University on March 20. Click for more photos.

While some people are still posting their food pictures on Twitter, others have already started a new way to use social media. For those innovators, Twitter, or any other social media platform, can actually be a powerful networking tool for business use.

Tom O’Keefe, better known as the guy behind one of the most well known Twitter accounts, @BostonTweet, is one of those pioneers. During the past five years, he has been tweeting about life in Boston, sending out guides for food, events, breaking news, as well as job or business opportunities. Using Twitter as a main source to promote startups and local business is his current major career.

O’Keefe started @BostonTweet in November 2008. Because of the economic recession, in the very beginning he just wanted to try it out of desperation. However, with it working along successfully, he decided to continue it as a business.

“What I do is mainly being out attending networking events as well as talking about local businesses and restaurants,” said O’Keefe, who has about 80,000 followers. “Twitter makes it perfect for promoting local business. I can just take quick photos and tweet it in real time, instead of having to go home, write an article or blog post, which happens five hours later.”

Joselin Mane, owner of @BostonTweetUp, also saw the importance of using social media in his career.

“I think Twitter is one of the most innovative tools,” he said. “Once you understand it, it opens up the door for you to be able to connect with almost anyone in the world, especially for establishing your own brand.”

Mane used Twitter to build a new media event planning promotional service, helping companies promote and kick off events successfully. He believed that social media, primarily Twitter, has been redefining the way people connect in the world, and will continue to evolve in the upcoming years.

“I think Twitter is going to be more integrated into the applications or tools we use every day, giving us the ability to get information in real time,” Mane said.

In 2009, Time published an article about the future of Twitter, saying “as Twitter grows, it will increasingly become a place where companies build brands, send information to customers, conduct e-commerce and create communities for their users.” During these years seeing Twitter developing into a more professional platform, people can find a trend that it will be more used for business marketing and networking.

“It’s not really going to be called social media in the future. It’s beyond the communication or social tool. It’s connection tool,” Mane said when talking about the future of social media being used in business world. “It’s a way to do market research, a way to analyze, a way to let you know what’s going on in a certain area, to find out what’s happening among the customers so that you can make the decision on product, on services to provide. It’s going to be integrated in everything we do.”

At the same time, Mane pointed out that there are new challenges for startups who want to get involved in this new world of networking.

“The biggest thing that has changed in last several years in regards to social media is that it is becoming more mainstream and more into our daily life,” he said. “At the beginning it was mostly thought leaders, innovators and early adapters that were communicating. The community was smaller so that more what was being shared was visible. Now because of the quantity of the individuals that are on there contributing to the communication, it’s becoming harder to make strong connections.”

Mane suggested that those starting businesses build a strategy to use social networking system such as Twitter and LinkedIn.

“You definitely could take advantage of Twitter in your career. But it’s not easy,” said O’Keefe, who is also facing the new challenge. Instead of keeping all of his connections on Twitter, he is now starting a new business called BostonAve, to help make either personal or business connections between people in a relatively private networking environment.

Brooke Foucault Welles, assistant professor in the department of communication studies at Northeastern University, suggested college students starting thinking of using Twitter to build their own career path.

“I think it’s a really exciting opportunity for young people. A lot of companies, politicians and individuals are now recognizing that they can use social media to make money,” she said. “Twitter is the platform that you can communicate directly to organizations you might be interested in. So you can start to tweet things and to create your identity on Twitter. In this way when companies search you as a job candidate, they will find you really are someone that is knowledgeable and engaged in this field already.”

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