When you think about using social media to expand your network and improve your career, one particular platform likely springs to mind: LinkedIn.

Don't get me wrong -- I'm a big fan of LinkedIn and all the great work it does to connect professionals. But, I've actually found great success with a completely different social media network. "What one?" you ask. Twitter.

That answer may be surprising to some, but it's true. Even with those limited characters, I've managed to use my account to meet all sorts of new people, score some great new opportunities, and earn over three times more as a freelancer than I ever did when I was employed full-time.

How? It wasn't as tough as you might initially assume. Here are four key tips that helped me use Twitter to grow my network, my career, my income, and my influence.

1. Polish Your Bio

In order for people to be interested in what you're doing, they first need to know who exactly you are. And, that's going to be pretty tough to ascertain if your Twitter bio only says that you're a "Yogi and coffee lover".

You have limited space in your Twitter bio (only 160 characters to be exact), but do your best to make the most of them. Say exactly who you are, what you do, and -- most importantly -- the value that you bring to the table. Make sure to use a few keywords too, as long as you can do it in a way that doesn't seem unnatural or robotic.

Then, when prospective employers, clients, connections, or even followers take a quick glance at your account, they'll immediately know exactly what you're about.

2. Dole Out Compliments

So, you want to use Twitter to connect with people in a friendly, low-pressure environment? Well, Twitter isn't liked LinkedIn -- you don't need to send a formal request in order to have a conversation. From Bill Gates to Kanye West, you can quite literally send a tweet to anyone who has an account.

One of my favorite tactics to get the conversation rolling with someone I'm eager to connect with is to dish out a genuine compliment. Whether it's a congratulations on a new product launch or a compliment on an article he or she just had published, this is a great way to strike up a chat in a way that's encouraging -- and not pushy or promotional.

3. Share Great Content

Twitter is an awesome platform for finding all sorts of valuable content. And, sharing informative, industry-relevant content (you don't need to be a writer -- you can share existing stuff from various publications and brands!) on your own account is a great strategy for a couple of key reasons.

First, it's a way for you to demonstrate your interest in and engagement with a company that you'd love to work for, partner with, or just generally support. Getting their articles and information in front of more eyeballs is always appreciated.

Secondly, filling your own feed with valuable information will help you gain credibility, build your brand, and establish your identity as a resource and a thought leader.

4. Participate in Chats

If you haven't already joined in on a Twitter chat, I highly recommend that you do so. Twitter chats typically occur on the same day each week, are moderated by a single Twitter user asking questions, and utilize a special hashtag to group all of the responses together. There are chats out there for virtually any topic under the sun.

Lending your voice to these discussions will help you get connected with peers and leaders in your field, give you an outlet to promote yourself or your business, and provide tons of valuable insights and advice you won't find anywhere else.  

 

Twitter might not be the first social network to spring to mind when you think about growing your network or your career. But, use these four quick tips, and those limited characters can definitely pack a punch.

Published on: May 27, 2016
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.