I don’t think I have even a speck of doubt in my mind as to why I use Twitter and why I give it a disproportionate amount of my time and attention. There’s so much negativity around Twitter. Get into a growth mindset, and you will discover Twitter is brilliant as is.
I am going to exaggerate a bit here to show my point.
Twitter *is* your resume. A personal blog *is* your cover letter.
Sounds crazy? 🙀
Let me explain.
For example, let’s say you aspire to become a journalist once you graduate. Most students in college would think “Oh, let me write for our campus newsletter for enhancing my writing skills”. I would say “ thats the worst thing you can do for your career. Thats has the worst ROI. You don’t value your time enough”.
Again, keep in mind, I am exaggerating to get a point across. When you write for your college paper, the content that you produce mostly stays within the walls of your college buildings. What I mean by this is that when you write a piece weekly for your campus news, it is highly unlikely (read as mostly impossible) for people outside of your particular school are going to read it. Yes, you could share it on Facebook, and increase the reach. But, what are the chances that the piece will be read by people who could potentially give you an opportunity to become a journalist in the real world? The odds are minuscule for most students that use Facebook as a purely social platform to connect with friends, relatives and peers. Yes, your could share them on linkedIn. But, the shelf life of college centric pieces is very low. A piece in the humor section or about the changes in dining halls or even about changes in the college website is not going to help much long term.
Now, lets assume you want to become a journalist in the tech world. If I were you, here’s what I would do step by step —
Identifying the right people and making lists
I would set up a Twitter account. You make two lists. I am surprised by how undervalued twitter lists are. (Just like how undervalued Snapchat Discover channels are). Lets name these lists “A” and “B”. Next step is to follow top 40 to 60 journalists in tech from a plethora of publications like The Verge, The Information, TechCrunch, Pando Daily, Mashable, Recode, etc and add them to list “A”. I would follow them with an intent of seeing what kind of things these people talk about, what articles they share, who they interact with and how, what and how they write, etc. Doing so would help you learn a ton. Who better to learn from about journalism than the top names in the field? I promise you that you would learn a lot more than what any class in journalism at school will teach you. The only caveat is for you to have a genuine curiosity to learn. Now, do not expect these folks to engage with you. It is highly likely that these people have massive followings on Twitter if they are very active. In order to satisfy the the desire to engage with other users, you make list “B”. For that, I would hunt down 50 to 60 people that are aspirational journalists or those that have recently gotten into journalism and are starting to make waves in the industry and have decent followers count on Twitter. A good place to find such people are various lists of top people that a lot of publications produce for each industry. Forbes and Business Insider regularly publish such lists. Another hack to find such people is to find out what people work with or under the people that are in your previous list of top journalists. So, lets say, you know a specific lady that is the Editor-in-Chief of a certain publication, find out who works with or under her. Add such people to list “B”. These are the people you start engaging with regularly. These people are more likely to talk with you. Your tweets with them will showcase your knowledge, thought-process and skills to not just them but to their followers and perhaps, some of the people in list A. Again, learning is the topmost priority. Not getting noticed by spamming them. Engage with a mindset of adding value. Ask questions. Share information. Thank them for what you learn from them.
Putting in the work
I would start a personal blog. I would create an account on Medium because of its aesthetic appeal and frictionless workflow. I would combine all my growing knowledge base, engagements on twitter and my unique perspectives on anything related to tech that I like and produce content in the form of blog posts regularly. I don’t think I need to rehash the benefits of writing regularly here. Don’t know what to blog regularly about without sounding stupid? Well, read more and learn more. If you really are curious and excited about tech journalism, you will do that. Install Feedly on your phone. Follow the personal blogs or professional columns of several journalists and keep up with them. Put diverse ideas, thoughts and opinions into your head daily so that your mind generates new ideas with its own magic touch. Reverse engineer shit. Learn shit from others and document your knowledge. This does not go to show that you copy others’ content. That would be a disaster.
Connecting work to people
Now, lets say two people you follow on Twitter are talking about Snapchat’s ad strategies or Alphabet’s stock price or the latest machine learning app from Microsoft or the controversies around Zenefits or one of the million other topics that could be possibly talked about. If you have been doing what I mentioned in the above paragraphs, you will be able to engage with them. Wondering how? Here’s how —
- You could share your blog post where you shared your thoughts about that specific topic and ask for feedback.
- You could share a blog post or an article that some other journalist that you follow wrote on that topic and that you came across the other day.
- You could bring in someone from list B or A that you know tweets a lot about that specific topic.
You could be creative in adding some value in some way. Would you be able to do this for every single conversation that pops up in your feed? Of course not. But, religiously learning daily will enable you to engage in one of the twenty or thirty conversations you come across. So, am I asking you to just wait for that one conversation where you could show off how much you know? No. You *learn* from those conversations and gain knowledge passively. You learn everyday. After a couple weeks, you will be able to chime in a lot more.
Am I asking you to do all this to grow a following on Twitter or get more hearts or retweets? Hell no. I hardly get any hearts and retweets myself. If you hustle enough to make proper lists to follow the right people, every single tweet is a nugget of wisdom. Every single tweet is an opportunity to gain new insights. Sounds overwhelming? It is, initially. But, if you really want to do something, you need to get a grasp of it better than others.
Your twitter profile and blog together make your online equity. That equity is an accumulation of your knowledge, skills, ideas, creativity, thought process, perspective and values. And guess what recruiters what? New ideas, creativity, great thought process, new perspectives and unique values.
When you start doing this consistently, people will start appreciating your ideas. People in list A will start noticing you. A tweet or a DM could change the path of your career. Twitter has the power of showing how relevant your knowledge is in today’s fast paced world. Gone are the days when you memorized a list of things, got good grades and got a high-paying job. We live in an age where only those that learn and hustle daily are noticed, appreciated, respected and promoted. I do not think that is a bad thing. Learning is a never-ending activity. Maintaining a personal blog and twitter account mean nothing if you don’t have a growth mindset. Twitter just facilitates the process by delivering you what’s relevant and empowers you to learn from the greatest people in your field of choice.
Of course it is not easy to set up Twitter. It is not meant for following your friends. It does not deliver you anything on a silver platter. And thats exactly how the real world works. You need to put in the work. Facebook’s graph has perpetuated this mindset that it *should* be easy to set every tool up. Well Facebook is a social tool. Twitter is not. Twitter makes you work hard. And, guess what? The ROI is DISPROPORTIONATELY high.
Now, I want to work in the VC world. So, my list A consists of top venture capitalists and entrepreneurs. My list B consists of associates, community managers and principals that work at top VC funds in the country and top execs that work with the successful entrepreneurs. I learn more from list A and engage more with list B. A couple months of hustle landed me my current gig as a VC analyst. I do not go to a top school. Nor do I live in a city known for what I see myself doing.
Learn from the best. Hustle daily. Be honest. Be resourceful. Be curious. And, that is your resume. I did not give any resume to get my current job. I did not submit anything or ask to become a writer for The Huffington Post. I did not submit resume to land interviews for a fast growing startup in NYC that is a portfolio company of a VC fund that I immensely respect.
Learn. Hustle. Read. Write. Repeat.
Hit me up on Twitter. — sarthakgh
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