Twitter is a great tool some will argue. Twitter is a waste of time others will retort. Both comments are correct.

Over the next three days I’m going to post on how I use Twitter. This is different than how @kevinokeefe, @chrisbrogan, or @ABAJournal uses Twitter. We all find Twitter to be of value, and we all use it in a unique way … a way that works for us.

If used well, Twitter can help you to build your personal brand, expand your reach to potential clients, and allow you to help shape conversations as a thought leader. I have found that Twitter can help you to realize the trifecta of “know, like and trust.” If not used well, Twitter will be a waste of time.

So here are a few of my Twitter tips for those just starting out:

  1. Brand yourself with your user name. It’s difficult to build a relationship with “@LegalWatercoolr,” but @heathermilligan is knowable. If I am at a conference, my name tag will read “HEATHER Milligan,” my firm name, corporate name, blog name might or might not there, but my FIRST and last name will.
  2. Pick an avatar and stick with it. This is your profile picture. Make it something that will easily identify you in a crowded column. I use a portrait of me drawn by my then 5-year old daughter. Change your photo too often and you might “disappear” with your followers until they catch on.
  3. Make certain to include a URL to your Web site or blog, LinkedIn profile, Facebook Fan Page, etc. This will provide people with more information on you, enhancing the “know” factor, and giving them another avenue to communicate with you.
  4. Profile yourself in your profile. Include as much unique information about you in this 1-Line, 160-character bio. The profile is a searchable area and you should take advantage of the space. Include your business (marketing), your industry (legal), your location (Los Angeles) and personal information/interests (mom, Girl Scout leader, social media, Dodgers’ fan – Go Blue!!).
  5. Location – Include your city. Don’t leave it out.
  6. Protect my Tweets. NO, NO, NO. Social media is about OPENING up your network, not closing it down. If I see someone protects their Tweets or their profile, or must pre-approve any new followers, I move on.

Your profile is your passport into the world of Twitter. Followers will use this information to determine if you are someone worth following, someone whose message should be heard. Take a few moments and fill it out well.

Tomorrow: Twitter After Dark: What should or shouldn’t I Tweet on??