Converse + Interact = Community: The secret formula to "real" Twitter connections!

Photo by mkhmarketingDisclaimer: this is simply my own research and experience in using Twitter.

That being said, as an active user of Twitter since October 2008, I have made mistakes, learned from them, learned from other people’s mistakes, and learned from some of the best.

Everyday I see both new and old users of Twitter misuse this great tool. It frustrates me but then I realize that most likely no one told them how.

There are variations of Twitter use and I have certain pet peeves that might be OK for someone else but not me. The three areas in this post are the basics to get you moving in Twitter successfully.

Key ways you can experience greater success with Twitter:

Conversation, Interaction, and Community

If you think that all you will use Twitter for is to push out your blog posts or market your product, you will quickly fail on Twitter. You need to be willing to sound conversational as you set your status.


For example, I just posted this: “Good morning! Weather report from Wisconsin – no snow, 30 degrees, for the hunters, deer hunting begins tomorrow. Be safe!”

Within minutes, Christine Livingston replied: “@JulieWalraven Brrrr. Cold one, Julie. Hope it’s a good one. And good morning :)”

I posted the snow info because yesterday I was having a conversation with Gini Dietrich about whether we had snow yet. As trivial as weather tweets may seem, it is common ground that many people can relate to.

Note: Christine replied using my name in the tweet. Since some people don’t use their names as their Twitter handle like Christine, Gini, and I do, it is especially nice to look up their name and include it in a tweet. (Hint: names are found by going to the Twitter profile page.)


While I am writing this post, I have had an amusing conversation about dogs who snore with Gee Backhouse who even taught me new words today: “@JulieWalraven to snore, in French, is ronfler … to me it seems thoroughly onomatopoeic … especially when our little dog snores!”

For those who were as clueless as I was: “onomatopoeic” or “onomatopoetic”) is a word that imitates or suggests the source of the sound that it describes. Onomatopoeia (as an uncountable noun) refers to the property of such words. Common occurrences of onomatopoeias include animal noises, such as “oink” or “meow” or “roar”.

You start interactions with common ground. Gee and I both have dogs. But we are getting to know one another and building an understanding of each other while having fun at the same time.


The longer you use Twitter the more community you will build, IF you follow the suggestions above. If you are broadcasting all day, you found the wrong media and it will not work for you. I made many friends and built relationships using Twitter but only because I made it conversational and interactive from the start.

I met Christine, Gini, and Gee all on Twitter and through their blogs. Christine is in the UK, Gini is in Chicago, and Gee is in France. National and international community building starts with a Tweet.

A little more info about these three connections:

  • Christine Livingston, who has connected with this blog before describes herself: “So, who am I really? In truth, I’m a maverick. Yes, I’ve been an HR Director with a Fortune 500 corporate, I’ve done Consulting with a world leading change firm, I’m a Coach and a Psychotherapist – and now I’ve added writing to my portfolio.”
  • Gini Dietrich is the founder and chief executive officer of Arment Dietrich, Inc., a firm that uses non-traditional marketing in a digital world.
  • Gee Backhouse describes her journey: I became a goldsmith by deciding to live a life of adventure; to risk the safely familiar in favour being involved in something that inspired me.

I don’t connect with everyone on Twitter. Some I choose to connect with immediately because they start a conversation with me and I find them interesting. Or sometimes I know someone from another stream or list that I am reading and it will be a natural connection.

To decide if I will connect, I check out  Twitter streams and see what they tweet about. If they follow my conversation and interaction kind of tweeting, I connect. If they only push out blog posts, RT excessively, or worse look like a robot, I will not add them to my Twitter community.

Could you use Twitter in a job search? Of course! You can use these basic principles because they work for anyone who desires to be successful with social media in general and Twitter in particular.

The best way to get me to connect with you on Twitter? Talk to me! I love to have you retweet my posts, but I want to know that you are a person and I want to see if we have common ground.

I used to end all my blog posts with “Talk to me, I talk back” – it works on Twitter too!

Photo Credit:


  1. Christine Livingston on November 19, 2010 at 9:18 am

    Lovely post, Julie, and thanks so much for including me. What you say here about Twitter is certainly true in my experience. It’s about the conversation. The real conversation. Not just a manufactured one because you think there might be a job or a sale at the end!

    If these things come, brilliant. Meantime, it’s so lovely just to connect with folks across the world on real life human things.

    Sending you lots of love, my friend 🙂

    • Julie Walraven on November 19, 2010 at 9:25 am

      So sweet, Christine! I don’t think I would use Twitter if it didn’t have the conversation aspect to it. Who would have “thunk” that you could build international friendships 140 characters at a time!

  2. Gee Backhouse on November 19, 2010 at 9:39 am

    I’m so glad we’ve met on Twitter, Julie, and keeping the authenticity as you have described is so important. Thank you for including me … and for introducing me to others, too. Having real connections with people on Twitter makes a big difference in so many ways!
    Wishing you warmth and nights of heavenly slumber when you need them. With love, Gee. Hello to Teddy, too!

    • Julie Walraven on November 19, 2010 at 9:44 am

      See? That’s exactly what I mean, Gee. I think if we were to meet in person, we would have an instant connection. Real on Twitter converts to real life or maybe it is real life all along. Some of my Twitter friends I have met in person, others I now relish a chat with on Skype to continue the conversation. You build relationships, one tweet at a time!

  3. Gini Dietrich on November 19, 2010 at 5:46 pm

    I’m still SO MAD we don’t have snow yet. I don’t know if it makes me feel better to know you don’t have it, either.

    To your point about making connections on Twitter: There are so many people I’ve met on Twitter that I find reasons to meet in real life. People I would have never otherwise had the chance to meet. Some of them have become friends. Some of them do business with us. Some of them I refer business to occasionally (and hope to add you to that list!). While some I’m able to send talent to just to be nice.

    Love getting to know you just a little bit better every day!

    • Julie Walraven on November 19, 2010 at 6:03 pm

      Gini, you are a treasure! The chance meeting when you guested posted on Brent Peterson’s @InterviewAngel’s blog led me to your own blog and the great interaction there. Since then I have tried to keep up with your posts and your videos because I do feel that helps me know you better. You already have given me business by another connection from your blog and I appreciate that too.

      Lives interconnecting continue to amaze me.

      On the snow part, I do believe the lights are on at Granite Peak so they are probably starting to make snow… real snow is probably not far behind. I just checked the high on Thanksgiving (20 degrees) brrrr.

      I’ll let you know when it is real!

  4. Donna Svei aka AvidCareerist on November 20, 2010 at 10:46 am


    Thanks for another wonderful post. This ties in so beautifully to the convo on Twitter’s #HFChat yesterday about taking social media connections into real life.

    Isn’t it amazing that social media can help us make friends all over the world? It strikes me that it holds tremendous potential for propagating no, not whirled peas, but yes, actual world peace.

    Not to mention the career potential…

    Big Hug on a Snowy Sun Valley, Idaho Morning,


    • Julie Walraven on November 20, 2010 at 10:57 am

      Awww Donna, you are another one I would love to take to real life someday… we could schedule a Skype chat soon! Great value from your blog, great support on Twitter, Great person, all around! Thanks for stopping by!

  5. Jim Horrell on November 20, 2010 at 8:05 pm

    Hi Julie,

    A few weeks ago I was participating in #BlogChat when a woman asked for someone to write a guest post for her blog. She was looking for someone to write about how to increase your followers on twitter. Wanting to get some additional writing experience I volunteered to write for her. The piece I wrote for her blog was called engage, share, chat.

    The ideas I shared in the post are very similar to the thoughts and experiences you shared here.

    Engage – become interested in other people and ask questions or share your own ideas and thoughts on a topic

    Share – Share information that might be able to help someone. Yesterday one of the people I follow said she was wondering how she could find more people to talk with on twitter. I was able to help her by sharing a link to a spreadhseet containing information about chats.

    Chat – The main way I find people who have similar interests is by following and particiapting in chats. Chats take place at certain times on certain days and are about certain topics. It can be a little overwhelming at times because sometimes there are more than 300 people sharing ideas on the topic, but it is still a great experience.

    By the way, I frequently particiapte in the #HFChat that @AvidCareerist referred to in an earlier comment. In fact, one of the questions yesterday was who would you like to connect with in real life. One of my answers was @AvidCareerist because although I already follow her and read many of her blog posts, in my opinion, a phone conversation or an in-person meeting helps to soldify the relationship. As a result of my answer, Donna and I are in the process of setting up a phone conversation.

    On a side note, …
    I live in Wisconsin and at the moment I am thankful there is no snow right now. Hmmm, … when I was a child growing up in Wisconsin I enjoyed ice skating and sledding. Now that I am adult and find I have to drive in it and shovel it, snow no longer has the appeal to me it once did. Oh well, it can be good exercise sometimes so I’ll have to keep that in mind when the white stuff begins to fly.

    Thanks for sharing a good message. I agree with you and in my own life have found that you never know what a tweet might lead to furthur down the road. I made a real life friend because I tweeted about going for a walk at a park.

    • Julie Walraven on November 20, 2010 at 8:31 pm

      Thanks, Jim, like minds! I think you are right about chats if you are looking to grow connections. I don’t do many of them because I’m already very busy and find that they don’t match my available time. On occasion, I can push out a retweet or when someone is holding one where I need to learn, I might jump in for a bit.

      I’m also a very one-on-one kind of person so I try to build that same way on Twitter.

      Glad to have you stop by, come again!

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