Twitter has the power to amplify your online presence, enabling you to connect with your audience while reaching new members of your market.

"It's an opportunity to get in front of other people," says Javed Khan president of Empression Marketing Services in Toronto. "If they like something you put out there, your name and face are in front of people you couldn't otherwise have reached."

But you can't begin to reap the benefits of Twitter until you devise a consistent routine of checking in regularly to listen, share, respond or comment on what's unfolding in real time within your community.

To get into the habit of making Twitter a part of your daily routine, consider these tips:

> Determine your approach
Twitter users play different roles in the online community, says Audra Rusinas, digital marketing manager at Marketing and Communications Central in Toronto.

Decide whether you're more comfortable engaging as a listener, a content creator/ curator, a commentator or a mixture of the above. You might decide to first ease into each role before posting original content.

For example, you might start as a listener, absorbing what "influencers" are posting, and then gradually offer your own input in the conversation.

Being vocal on Twitter doesn't necessarily mean putting out original or handpicked content every day. There might be times when you want to comment on something another colleague has shared. That, Rusinas says, is another way to build an audience.

> Set a schedule
Maintaining Twitter requires effort, Khan says, but it becomes more manageable if you use scheduling tools, such as Hootsuite and Hearsay Social, to pace the posting of your tweets. Consider setting aside time once a week to plug in a few tweets, such as links to pre-approved articles, to be posted automatically throughout the week.

You also will need to schedule a few minutes each day to take in what's being released in real time. Make a 15-minute appointment with yourself before lunch, suggests Rusinas, to follow hashtag threads, so you can stay on top of conversations in the industry and see how you can participate.

Don't expect Twitter to generate leads immediately, Khan says. It may take months of consistent effort before you see tangible results.

> Follow only select feeds
If you're following a large number of people and businesses on Twitter, the volume of tweets on your time line can become overwhelming if you don't have some way of filtering them. There are two ways you can tune in to the conversation in a more focused way.

You can follow developments using hashtags commonly used in your field —such as #FinancialPlanning or #RRSP. Or you can create a segmented list of people you are most interested in hearing from.

> Offer a "hyperlocal" take
Twitter feeds that churn out only business-related content don't resonate well with audiences, says Khan. You have to be willing to connect with your target audience on a more personal level.

Whether you practice in a small town or a city, Khan says, you can use Twitter to show your involvement in the community. For example, Tweet at community events, capturing video or photos of the activities.

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