But there’s way more you do on Twitter. How you can use Twitter to get ahead is only limited by your imagination.
Check out these tips to get your brain buzzing.
1. Sneak Into Conferences
Ever been to a conference where you could share your thoughts on Twitter? It’s a growing trend. Academics have latched onto this and realized they can sneak into conferences through the back door by following the conference Twitter feed.
People will usually Tweet conference highlights, so you’ll get the best stuff without spending the time or money attending.
Academic Meghan Duffy explains how she started attending conferences via Twitter:
This summer, because I was moving to Michigan, I wasn’t able to make it to either Evolution or ESA. I was, however, able to follow along with both meetings, by following tweets with the conference hashtags (#evol2012 and #esa2012). Following the tweets from Rosie Redfield’s plenary at Evolution was a particular highlight.
You can do this with business conferences too. All you need to do is find out the conference hashtag, and look out for prolific tweeters who are attending the conference.
Tip from: Meghan Duffy.
2. Ask Anything – And Get Quick Answers from Real People
Google may be the king of search, but that doesn’t mean it will always serve up the answer you need.
When it’s a real person you need help from, Twitter is ideal. Adam Zeis writes:
Twitter is also an amazing tool for getting quick answers to pretty much any questions you may have. I’ve used it for help when making a purchase (choosing between two items), getting opinions on certain topics and settling disputes with friends. Depending on the amount of followers you have, you can easily ask nearly anything and you will instantly receive an answer.
It beats out searching the web for results in many cases, and often nets you answers you wouldn’t be able to find by simply searching.
Tip from Adam Zeis.
3. Connect With Study Buddies
Need to swot up on a new topic? Twitter is a fantastic learning tool. You can find help and support from other learners who are digging into the same subject as you.
Medical student Brittany Chan explains how she began using Twitter as a study booster:
I started using Twitter as a way to waste time when I needed a break from studying. Then something crazy happened. Twitter transformed from a major distraction to a valuable study tool. I began to tweet questions to fellow med students about concepts I didn’t understand, and they responded. Other students would tweet their confusions, and I’d attempt to explain the mechanism of a drug or the purpose of the alanine cycle. Many times, several others would chime in to augment our collective understanding or ask additional questions.
Chan also uses Twitter to keep herself updated on the latest research in her field:
As a medical student and future pediatrician, I follow accounts of official medical associations, such as the AAP (@AmerAcadPeds) and AAMC (@AAMCToday), leading medical journals, including JAMA (@JAMA_current) and The Lancet (@TheLancet), as well as several different kinds of physicians who frequently tweet interesting new articles.
Tips via: Brittany Chan.
4. Discover Job Opportunities – Before They’re Advertised
We’ve written before about how Twitter is great at helping you find hidden opportunities.
You can also use Twitter to discover jobs before they’re even advertised as available. Follow the employees at a business you’d like to join, and you’ll get to see the inner workings of the company.
In an article on using Twitter for job hunting, Simon Caine explains he does this:
I found following existing employees (particularly recruitment officers) much more helpful than following the company’s Twitter account. Individuals are much more likely to respond. Plus it may help you stay one step ahead of the rest of the job market: they’ll often tweet if they’re changing jobs, which let’s you know there’s a vacancy.
I found lots of companies had a list called “staff” where you can find the employees, but you can also search by users’ bios using Google. I’d recommend following the list itself. It saves time and has the advantage that whenever a new member of staff joins the company you will get their tweets automatically (once they’ve been added to the list).
Tip via Simon Caine.
5. Find New Ways of Thinking
Twitter isn’t only great for getting your questions answered. It’s also handy if you want to challenge yourself by answering questions.
Denise Graveline explains how she finds this helpful:
Sometimes, the best way to see something anew is to be questioned about it by someone who’s genuinely curious and doesn’t know you well. My followers on Twitter ask me all sorts of questions–about my blog, about public speaking, about social media, about food and travel and playing guitar–that prompt me to think with care about what I do. It’s a great playback machine.
The free plug-in InboxQ lets you search for questions in your niche.
Tip via Denise Graveline.
Over to You
Do you use Twitter in any out-of-the-box ways? Let us know about them in the comments, below.