This post was originally published on the OLC on June 21, 2013 as part of the promotional launch of OLC Career Chats.
If you’ve spent any amount of time on Twitter, you’ve probably seen someone participating in or talking about a Twitter chat. So what are they?
Twitter chats are essentially exactly what they sound like: A group of people all joining together at a set time to discuss a given topic. If you look hard enough, you can find organized chats on almost any topic. They can be used not only to share and gain insights on the topic discussed, but they can also be great opportunity to network and connect with people who have similar interests or are in the same industry as you.
A typical Twitter chat will take place at a set time, usually monthly, biweekly, or even weekly, and organizers usually promote the time, topic, and the accounts involved well in advance. Participants use a pre-determined hashtag when tweeting, which they can then use to search for other participants and continue the conversation.
Chat organizers will likely prepare some questions or prompts to start the chat, which participants can then answer or comment on. To keep things organized, questions and answers will be numbered. Sometimes featured guests (usually a specialist on the topic) will join, taking questions from participants as well.
That being said, these chats aren’t just a place to have questions answered. It can be a giant online networking event. If you embrace it, expect to leave with a few new contacts and followers, along with some new information.
Tips for a Successful Twitter Chat
- Introduce Yourself. When you join in on the conversation, send out a quick tweet, using their hashtag, letting the organizing account know you’re excited to get started.
- Jump Right In. Don’t be afraid that you don’t have anything worthwhile to contribute. If you have an opinion or insight on the topic, share it. If you think someone else made a really good point, let them know. Read a great blog post that supports your point? Share it.
- Pay Attention. If you’re late to the chat, and everyone else is discussing question 5, don’t return to the first question, just join in with the most recent topic.
- Be Careful with Self-Promotion: If you’ve written a blog post on the topic, then sharing it can be a great way to contribute to the conversation, but be careful about too much self-promotion. Some chats ask participants to wait until the end of the chat to share links, so take cues from other participants. If you do share a link, don’t spam the feed and send it out to 20 different people, just hashtag it, and people will find it.
- Have Fun. Twitter chats can be a great way to make some new connections, but they’re not a high-stakes networking event. Just log-in, have some fun, and maybe even learn a few things.
In the end, Twitter chats are better experienced than read about. Learn about the series of Twitter chats the OLC is organizing with Career Services this month.