Can Twitter Improve Your Career? Creating a Professional Account

By Michelle Bizzell, February 04, 2015

You might already be using Twitter for pet pictures and TV show tweets. Personal accounts are lots of fun. But Twitter can be about more than fun and games. According to Twitter, they have 284 million monthly active users. With that many people using it, professionals from virtually every industry are tweeting. So, shouldn't you have a professional account? It might be the best thing you could do for your career.

Part 1: Setting Up Your Account

First things first, you need to differentiate your new, professional account. There are four parts to set. You want to make sure to use all four areas to improve your personal brand.

1. Username

Pick a username that’s professional. Some version of your name is probably the best option. It can be tricky to find the perfect username, since each one must be unique, but keep trying. If you’re unhappy with your username, it’s easy to change later.

2. Profile Picture

Use a nice, professional headshot. Your profile picture from LinkedIn is a good place to start. Colleen Eakins also wrote a great article about what a headshot should look like. A personal logo isn’t a bad idea either, depending on your industry.

Related Post: What Does Your Headshot Say About You?

3. Bio

This is where you get to shine. Make your bio personal and creative. Don’t forget to also mention the industry you work/want to work in. Start by highlighting a special skill you have.

Related Post: Introduction to Twitter Lists

There’s also a section underneath the description box for your website. Put a link to your website, blog, or LinkedIn profile. It’s valuable real estate, be sure to use it.

4. Header Photo

At the top of your profile, there’s a space to customize your profile with a header photo. Here’s where you can put a big personal brand banner.

Not sure where to start?

  • Think about a career or industry-related visual. Something others in the same job would recognize. It’ll build connections with your target audience.
  • Choose a photo that shows off your personality. Maybe you have a favorite sunset photo. Something with a little flair can make your profile pop.
  • Design a banner for yourself. A well-designed banner can help you to show off your skills. What value do you bring to the table? Hubspot offers free templates to help you get started. Play with graphics, colors, and fonts to make yours unique.

Bonus: Background Images and Theme Color

A custom background image and theme color aren't necessary for a good profile. Their visibility isn’t as prominent as the above components. But they do complete the look. They’re icing on the cake.

Background Image

You have to navigate to settings to change your background image. Choose the “Design” tab on the left. You’ll be given a variety of premade images to choose from. But farther down the page, there’s also the option to upload your own image.

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Ideally, it should be 1820 x 1080 pixels, so it’ll show up correctly on large monitors. But the file size limit is 2MB. Visitors only see your background image if they click on one of your tweets. You, on the other hand, get to see it every time you check your Twitter feed. So it’s better to pick a simple image or color you like than to spend a lot of time creating a branded one.

Theme Color

If you want more color on your profile, you can change your theme color. It’ll change the color of all links on the page. Changing your theme color is simple. Just go to your profile and click the “Edit profile” button on the right. At the bottom of the bio box, there is a “theme color” button. When you click on it, you will be given ten pre-selected choices.

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You can choose one of those colors to match your profile picture and banner. Or click the “+” button to enter a HEX code.

Part 2: Finding People to Follow

Twitter is a great place to get industry-related updates. You can discover new articles and find out what key influencers are talking about. But first, you have to find the right people to follow.

Related Post: The Complete Guide to Personal Branding

If you’re on the job hunt, following companies you want to work for is a good start. Many companies also have a careers or jobs account where they’ll advertise job opportunities. Look for usernames like @NPRJobs. Then you’ll never miss out when your dream job becomes available. There are also accounts like @SocialMediaJobs that are a steady stream of industry-specific openings.

Your industry also has people who are tweeting. You want to hear what they have to say. There are plenty of ways to find these people. Chances are, a few pop in your head right away. Start by following industry leaders. Look to see who they follow. Who does Twitter suggest you follow? Do this every time you follow someone new.

Once the black hole of following comes to an end, try branching out. Search Twitter for keywords or #hashtags related to your professional interests. Start broad. Someone will probably have used a more unique hashtag along with a general keyword. Then you can click on the hashtag to see all the tweets that use it. This will lead you to who’s talking about your industry. You can also save your searches to refer to later.

There’s another, often under-utilized feature on Twitter. Curated and full of great content, Twitter lists are something you should be using. They’re groups of related users and make following easy. You can create your own using new tools, or subscribe to lists others have made. Finding lists to follow is now easier than ever. Just search for the type of content you’d like to see, and go to “Timelines” on the left. Then click on “lists” at the top, center.

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You can then scroll through, browsing lists to your heart’s content. When you find a great one, subscribe to it. Bam! Your Twitter reading list just got longer. Lists have lots of uses, so you’re sure to get your money’s worth.

If you’re still looking for accounts to follow, there’s one more place I can send you. You’ll have to leave Twitter.com. Sometimes you’re searching for employees of a specific company or a certain position. That’s where followerwonk.com comes in. It allows you to search people’s bios for keywords. I’ve found it better and easier to filter than Twitter’s native people search.

Next Steps

Complete, professional profile? Check. Following interesting people? Check. Your account is all ready to go. But where are you going? What can you do with your newly created account to help your career? Spending some time reading what others are posting is a good place to start. Then, when you’re ready, part two of this series can give you advice for how to tweet like a pro.