Twitter and social networking - not much different than attending a conference and meeting people. Acquaintances, so to speak.
The only difference that separates us at that conference are the interests we have outside of the social setting. As we all know upon meeting others, similar interests may become apparent immediately, and then we choose to keep this acquaintance for future reference.
Engagement on twitter is not much different. Interests of twitterers are critical to twitter following, and those you choose to follow.
Your Profile: A diverse smattering of personal interests is critical in your profile to attain goals you may expect of twitterers or "tweeple." Amazing how new words such as "tweeple", evolve with changing social needs!
More serious twitter followers are interested in who they follow, or at least should be. Otherwise, the result may be spam from people you follow of the highest order.
If you are selling for profit or fun - an idea, item, wisdom, knowledge, education or just simply bored, twitter can bring you engagement in a social setting that conveys your idea through your link on your profile page. If people are interested in knowing more about you, what you sell, what you do in life, they will click on your link. My approach is to use my link sparingly in a tweet, unless conveying a message in a new blog or a Squidoo lens. My link may change in twitter from time to time, but my links contain links to my other interests.
What you say on twitter:
Your message can be influential and/or informative, and those tweets are ones which I follow by virtue of my personal interests. Very good chance that tweeple of similar interests will retweet my message, or vice versa.
What are your goals on twitter? If you sell goods or services that enhance another's ability to sell, inform or educate, the focus will be to twitter or retweet those that mirror your own. By limiting the scope of your interests on your profile page, you may be finding yourself with followers that do only the same thing.
Does this exclusive following or people you follow maximize your experience? Probably not. That is why expanding your interests will bring a more diverse following. If you are an online seller, why would you expose yourself only to people that do the same thing. While online sellers are buyers also, why not expand your scope significantly by interesting others that have not shared the experience of online buying. They might just click on your twitter link to learn a new experience.
I am passionate about art, music, ecommerce, environmental issues, self development, social issues, antiques, collectibles, outdoor play, online sales and much more. My goal on twitter is to engage with those that have similar interests. This brings diversity to my followers and those I follow.
How long does it take to build a following:
Twitter is like any other network of people that we build throughout our lives, in business and social lives. If I like what someone has to offer in the way of information, my own tendency is to remember that person, jot down their phone number, ask for their business card, or jot down a website link. Twitter is no different.
Following cutting edge technology online brings knowledge, information and tools that enhance my own experience. For that reason, I follow Mashable.
Like any other venture, the time it takes to build a network, success in your goal to build a following naturally follows. This is not an overnight undertaking if you seek the followers that bring value. For those tweets that want to rush followers to you on twitter, my only thought is to think about the value you wish to bring to your goal. After a time, tweeple recognize twitterers that are not merely "bots" twittering without a real live person behind the scenes. This is critical to those you follow.
How to engage:
If you liked a tweet and it brings value to you and believe it may bring value to others - retweet. Sometimes a brief comment to that tweet and your retweet can pique others interest. Simply retweeting a tweet is enough to allow others to know that you find that tweet valuable. In my opinion, that it strengthens your own credibility and influence. A useful tool to determine whether my tweets get or lose followers is TweetEffect. By knowing what treats are productive, the process of improving quality tweets that will engage others is learned through this valuable tool.
To summarize -
Improve your profile page on twitter, What you say - is it value added?, Target Goals, Building a quality following and Engagement are critical to successful twittering.
These are a few of the many people I follow on twitter that bring value to my twitter networking:
@renagades A music expert that writes for the Examiner, sells online, and reaches a broad spectrum of twitter users with similar interests. By following this twitterer, I follow and am followed by some of the fascinating people that they follow. Music is a passion in our family, and the tweets from this twitterer offer information, entertainment and value added information about music.
@eleesha Words of wisdom from this sage twitterer brings light and perspective to each day. This twitterer offers daily inspiration. Everyone that she touches is done with the personal touch.
@balmeras An expert, author, and staunch advocate for outdoors play #playoutdoors.
@booksbelow A most engaging and interesting person to follow. A diverse twitterer that adds value to each tweet. An antiquarian book expert that engages other twitters in a unique manner.
@ColderICE - Ecommerce writer - brings flair to his blogs, videos and can raise a chuckle or two. Does not mince any words, and brings light to what is happening in the Ecommerce world.
@Jamiroeclectica - This savvy website builder, graphics designer brings value by virtue of her experience and knowledge.
@EclecticDealer - An antiques collector and jewelry expert that knows her business and is willing to share what she knows.
@gypsytrading - This twitter favorite engages a diverse group of people. An antiques expert that is transparent in her field of expertise, yet can engage people in a unique way.
@AriaaJaeger - Inspirational and talented. Love her music and look forward to her daily tweets filled with wisdom and understanding. Truly an advocate of life and living.
With over 1500 people that I follow, these are just a few that bring to me, daily value.