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When I first started using Twitter my focus was on connecting. And I think I did a pretty good job, but sometime over the year I stopped making new connections (which to me is not the same thing as followers as I've gained 300+ followers since the end of 2011). I started looking at what I was doing differently. One I might have reduced the time I was on Twitter, but the main thing that popped out at me was the increase in promotional tweets. Promotional tweets are the ones that contain links (I don't count the ones that link to a news item I'm commenting on). As I've mentioned a few times on Twitter, I joined a Triberr group last month. One of the things about being in the group is sharing each others posts (promotion). I send out 18 - 24 promotional tweets a day from the tribe. Add that to increased promotion for my blog and promoting a few authors I work with and my Twitter stream has become a promotional feed.
To use Twitter for networking, you do not have to choose between connecting and promoting, but you do need to find a balance. It is recommended you have 3 - 5 content tweets (do not contain a link unless it is to reference the source) for every promotional tweet. A great way to create content tweets is to have conversations with people on Twitter. The thing you have to remember about Twitter is it's an open, public conversation. People tweet things because they want other people to respond (Tweet This). Did one of your followers tweet about a book you also read - make a comment. It's that easy.
Who you follow on Twitter will determine how much networking you are able to do (Tweet This). When I started, I had a "checklist" on whether to follow (remember my focus was to intentionally network and not necessarily to build my follower count). I included the checklist in the post last May, so I won't repeat it. If you want to connect with publishers, editors, authors, publicist, etc, then seek them out and follow them. And KEEP following them, even if they don't follow you back. I have roughly 100 people who I follow who don't follow me back. Would I love for them to follow, yes. Is it important they follow me back, no. I recognize while their information is beneficial to me, my tweets may not be beneficial to them. It is important to know what they are tweeting so that you can comment on them. If there is enough interaction, they may decide to follow you so keep at it.
Another way to connect without "stalking" is to join Twitter chats on topics that interest you. In fact, it was through a Twitter chat I met Lucinda. I'm not sure if she was in the chat or just responded to one of my tweets from the chat. She asked me a question and I responded. We traded tweets and then the conversation became larger and we moved to email. I have done the same with a number of publishers and authors.
Asking questions, sharing relevant news (GalleyCat and BookRiot offer great news for sharing/commenting), offering advise, and responding to others are all great habits to develop to help you network better on Twitter.
Note: I get most of my ideas for Tips on Thursday from conversations I have with others. If you have a particular topic you would like to see me cover, please leave a comment.