Networking is one of the most valuable skills you can develop as part of your freelance tool kit. Well-connected writers have a much easier time scoring gigs and drumming steady up work, and when it comes to socializing, making connections, and gathering the latest video game industry scuttlebutt, Twitter is where the action is at. Tons of editors, writers, and freelancers in the game journo world use Twitter daily, which is why it should be one of your top social networks of choice if you’re interested in landing writing gigs in the industry – freelance or otherwise. The more professional contacts you can make, the better off you’ll be. So whether you’ve just started out in the industry or have already gained some ground, here are some tips for using Twitter to boost your freelance career.
1. Create an easily recognizable handle
Ideally, you should include your name somewhere in your Twitter handle. This will help people associate your name with your tweets, boosting your professional visibility. It also increases byline familiarity when reaching out to potential editors and writer colleagues.
2. Use an actual headshot in your profile icon
No, not THAT kind of headshot. Use an actual pic of yourself for your profile icon, and try to pick one that’s as professional and friendly looking as possible. It makes it easier for people to connect and relate to you when they see your posts. Also, don’t change your profile icon too often. Users who follow lots of people often scan their feeds quickly and are more likely to read posts from folks whose icons they immediately recognize.
3. Make good use of your profile space
In your bio, mention that you’re a freelance writer, critic, game journalist, etc., and name a few of the more noteworthy publications you’ve written for. Be sure to include a link to your work blog or your LinkedIn resume page too. Also consider playing with your background and color-palette settings to make your Twitter profile page stand out (preferably in a not-horrible, eye vomit-inducing way).
4. Get tuned-in
Follow editors and freelancers who write for the publications you’re interested in contributing to down the road. You never know when they’ll tweet or retweet a job opening or a call for new writers you can jump on. Pay attention to what they say, and always be seeking out new and interesting people in the industry to follow.
5. Engage editors and colleagues
Don’t be afraid to make direct contact with people in the industry on Twitter. Ask questions, and engage in friendly banter. Many editors and writers are surprisingly approachable on social networks, and you’re often more likely to get a quick response from someone than you might if you e-mailed them. Just don’t bombard them.
6. Get involved in the conversation
If an editor or another freelancer posts something interesting, you should use @replies to respond to it or retweet it if it’s something you feel is worth sharing. Since people often check to see who’s interacting with them after they’ve posted something, this can be a great way to get on their radar. Who knows, you might find they engage you back and strike up a friendly exchange.
7. Start your own conversation
Have something interesting to say yourself? Share it. Ask a question. Make a statement. Say something thought provoking. Put your thoughts out there in a way that generates a positive response or discussion in others, and you’ll find it doesn’t take long for conversations to start and connections to form.
8. Don’t be a jerk
Seriously. People are watching and will take notice if you pick fights, make crude comments, and be an asshat. That will turn them off to connecting with you down the road. Seems like a simple no-brainer, but I’ve seen it happen plenty of times.
9. Fix your boo-boos
Everybody fires off a wonky tweet now and then. Bad grammar? A horrible typo? A broken link? A funky hashtag? When you make a simple slip-up in your posts on Twitter, it’s worth taking the time to delete your offending tweet and do it over again so it’s right. You don’t want someone retweeting that across the Internet all akimbo. Fix it up.
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