Yep you’re busy. You have a business to run. You have customers to serve. You have a new product launching and you need to get the world out. Service revenues are down this month and you need to drum up some new business…

Are these excuses why you don’t have time for Twitter?

Nope.

They are all perfect reasons why you NEED to make time for Twitter.

Twitter is a quick and easy way to connect with, inform and talk to customers in real time. It’s also a great way to scale your business fast.

You: But where and how do I get started?

Me: With this 7 step plan of course.

Step #1 – Get out of your comfort zone

Embrace the unknown. You have no idea what you’re doing. That’s ok. Get over it. I’ll let you in on a little secret…. Neither do I. Social media is all-new for everyone and there are no “experts”. Just be yourself, learn as you go, talk to people and you’ll figure out what works best for you and your business.

Step #2 – Introduce yourself with a great profile

Complete your entire profile. All of it. It’s extremely valuable real-estate. This sounds super obvious, but it’s amazing how many people don’t actually do it. Who are you? What do you do? And most importantly, what can you do for me? While your profile is technically about you, the smart folks in business know that answering “so what” and “who cares” is the key to keeping a customer’s attention. So… who are you and what can you do for me in 3 short quick sentences. Go!

Step #3 – A picture says a thousand words

Twitter only gives you 160 characters to describe yourself, but a picture says a thousand words! The very first thing you should do once you create your Twitter account is upload a picture of yourself. Nothing says either “I’m a newbie” or “I’m a spam bot” more than using the default Twitter egg. Nine out of ten people I know on Twitter would probably agree with this if I bothered to ask them. The 10th would be a newbie or spam bot of course. Use a clear, professional looking picture of yourself. No wedding photos, no candid or group shots, no fuzzy out of focus ones from the last year’s Christmas party. If you don’t have a good headshot, pay the $50 to get one. It’s your first impression on Twitter. Make it count!

Step #4 – Tweet with purpose

Random thoughts, musings, lunch updates, inspirational quotes and jokes are not going to grow your business. Don’t just tweet whatever comes to your mind but on the other hand, don’t spend hours thinking about it either. Here’s the secret… if something pops into your head and you immediately think “I’d like my customers to know that” tweet it. More importantly, if something pops into your head and you immediately think, “My customers need to know this”, tweet it! Remember social media is just talking to people. Don’t over think it, use your own voice, use your own words and tweet with purpose.

Step #5 – Hash it out!

Find the people and conversations that matter to you. The best way to do that is to find your hashtags. So what’s a hashtag? It’s just a topic of discussion with a # in front of it. Say you’re a real-estate agent and you sell condos in Toronto. You can follow the #condo hashtag you’ll see all the discussions about condos currently happening on Twitter. Add the #toronto hashtag and now you’ll see tweets about condos and Toronto. Hastags are filters, rally points, conversation descriptions, search tags and lots more. Most importantly they are used to organize Twitter conversations. . Hundreds maybe even thousands of real time conversations about the business you are in are taking place right now. Find the ones that matter most to you and you’ll begin to tap into the right conversations and more importantly the right people.

Step #6 – Talk to people

Duh. I know. But you’d be surprised at how many small business twitter accounts are simply used to broadcast. Spray and pray marketing will get you absolutely nowhere. Twitter is the ultimate communications tool. It scales like nothing you’ve ever seen before. If you want to get introduced and to know people, start and join conversations.

Step #7 – Don’t give up

It takes hustle, chutzpah and time to build a business. It’s the same with Twitter. Don’t worry if you only have 100 followers after a month. 100 raving fans following your every word on Twitter, engaging you in conversation and doing business with you is much better than 10,000 followers that do nothing. It took time to grow your business. It will take time to grow your business with Twitter. Stick it out. It’s worth it and when the magic begins to happen, you’ll wonder why you didn’t get started much earlier!