Twitter is a great resource and with these 9 tips, you can learn to market yourself professional on the social network

Have you Googled yourself lately? This could be how your next employer learns who you are and what you’re about.

The bad news is that they might see your cheesy senior pictures. The good news is that you have the power to shape some of what they see.

Although LinkedIn is useful in many ways, it more or less repeats the information on your resume, while Facebook mostly documents your personal life. Twitter, on the other hand, can be anything you want it to be. I chose to create a Twitter page that showcases my strengths and my professional objectives.

Twitter and I have had a tumultuous relationship since its inception in 2006. When a friend introduced it to me that year, Twitter was a bit of a mystery to me. What is its purpose? How do I use it? I mostly posted nonsensical thoughts and inside jokes that only my one other Twitter friend could understand.

After I outgrew Twitter as an outlet for inside jokes, I avoided it for several years because I didn’t see how the Twitterverse fit into my daily routine. Facebook is for connecting with friends and family, Instagram is for artfully taken pictures of beverages, and Tumblr is for political debate and pretty pictures. By comparison, Twitter seemed vacuous, too fast-paced for serious debate, and mostly a marketing machine for corporations trying to relate to millennials. I wasn’t having it.

A few months ago, I decided it was time to professionalize my online presence. I updated my LinkedIn account, cleaned up a few Facebook albums (goodbye, beer chugging photos from 2011), and deleted all my now-defunct social media accounts (does anyone remember Hi5? No? Just me?).

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Something was missing, though. I wanted a better way to shape my online image and to connect with like-minded people at the same time. I needed something more casual than LinkedIn, but less personal than Facebook. It was time to give Twitter another try.

Here are 9 ways to improve your Twitter profile:

1. Make your Twitter handle your name (or your blog or brand name).

I started fresh with a new Twitter handle that’s simple and clear — my name. There are a few reasons for this. First, my name is what people will be Googling to learn more about me, and I definitely want my Twitter page to be a top result.

Also, I hope to make connections with other people in my field, so I want them to know my name. I may never actually meet these people or get a chance to work with them, but it’s absolutely possible that I could land my next job through Twitter.

2. Use your bio as an elevator pitch.

Arguably more important than the Twitter handle is the bio, because the bio is your chance at an online elevator pitch. I have gone through several incarnations of my bio in the past few months, and the bio I settled on is perfect for me at this point in my life; I listed what I’m currently doing, a few words to describe what type of person I am, and a clear career goal that I aspire to reach in the future.

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Tip: I also added a link for my LinkedIn, which makes it especially clear that I’m serious about my career and am looking for new opportunities. Someday, I’ll replace that link with my own website.

3. Search hashtags and keywords that relate to your interests.

After your account looks presentable, search keywords that relate to your interests and follow the accounts that draw you in. I used keywords like “epidemiology,” “millennials,” “GIS,”and “public health.” From there, I went on a following rampage. I followed several people who are on their way to becoming public health professionals or who are already established in the field. Many of them followed back and even wrote messages of encouragement to me, wishing me luck in building my career. Some even offered up advice.

4. Don’t be afraid to get personal and showcase your personality.

The most difficult part of showcasing your best self on Twitter is learning how to make it personal. Although you might be focused on making sure your account shows your professional strengths and aspirations, it’s important that you add your own personal touch.

You can do this by adding a nice cover photo or tweeting about something positive in your life, like your morning workout or your plans for your anniversary. Just a smattering of personal posts can humanize your profile to help people better understand what type of person you are and why they might want to hire you or collaborate with you.

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5. Stay active.

Now that you have the beginnings of your “best self” Twitter, remember to keep your account active. I do this by retweeting from my favorite accounts, posting links to articles I’ve found, and participating in the occasional Twitter chat.

Not only does this get my name out there and add to what a future employer may see, but I’m actually learning a lot. In just a couple months, I have learned so much about my chosen field and feel more confident than ever that it’s the right path for me.

6. A few other tips to make the most of your Twitter presence:

1. Make sure your account is public so people can find and connect with you. This is your professional account, after all, so you aren’t posting anything that needs to be hidden anyway.

2. Secondly, make sure you upload a good picture of yourself that is appropriate for your field (remember, investment bankers have a different perception of what looks “professional” than geographers do).

3. Lastly, utilize industry-related hashtags and keywords, just like the ones you searched to find people in your field. This will help others find your account when they’re looking for someone just like you.