Looking through my Twitter feed, you probably wouldn’t know that I'm an introvert. In "real" life, I have a small circle of friends, crowds overwhelm me, and I need a lot of alone time (though nowadays that's rare since I'm a parent). This article is a personal guide to why and how I started using Twitter, how I navigate it currently, and how it can benefit you as a developer.
In my current part-time role, I am the only developer at the company. I'm self-taught, and none of my family or friends code. I'm extremely familiar with looking for coding solutions on Stack Overflow and Google. But even with the many (free) online resources available, self-doubt (a.k.a. Imposter Syndrome) and loneliness become especially prevalent without interaction with other developers. I do not use Facebook or Instagram, but I'd used Twitter several years ago, and I decided to give it another go, focusing on tech tweets.
My first tweet was "Twitter commit -m 'first tweet'", which didn't get much engagement (which I expected). My first few days on Twitter, I spent time searching for people to follow in the tech industry and began to read through the stream of thoughts of those I decided to follow. One person made a post saying "Treat your tweets as having a conversation" (paraphrasing). As someone who is okay without much conversation, but loves a challenge, I decided to do just that (with the caveat that I would not be upset if another person did not continue that conversation). And that approach worked! I started commenting on posts to which I related, and people responded back! Even some of the bigger developer accounts engaged with me.
I began tweeting my own posts and received engagement on those! By the time I was about two weeks into using Twitter, I hit 200 followers, including a few of the "big players", which absolutely floored me! I suffer with anxiety and depression, and my husband told me that he hadn't seen me smile so much in months; I was on a Twitter high. It was such a revelation that I could finally talk to people who had similar interests and goals. I challenged myself with a popular tech Twitter challenge - #100DaysOfCode, where you code for 1 hour a day for 100 days in a row; I didn't finish this challenge due to my hectic schedule as a parent, but during my participation I started cheering on others on their journeys and vice versa. Over the course of the next few months, I started building actual relationships with other Twitter users and I made (dare I say it…?) friends with other people all over the world.
At first my goal was to start developing relationships with other developers - to gain a support system and to support others. I'm happy to say I've met that goal, and my next goal is to start providing beneficial content so that I can start giving back to the community that has already given so much to me.
Joining Twitter has been 100% the best professional and personal decision I've made since being in tech. If I could give my past-self advice when I started coding, it would be to join Twitter - the amount of supportive and genuine people on the platform can boost not only your confidence, but also your skills and career!
Now that I've told you my story, let's get on to the tips and expectations.
- Engage (and tweet) often. Other people are more likely to follow active accounts, and being active helps you cultivate relationships!
- Take breaks when you need them. This may seem counter-intuitive to the previous tip, but Twitter might become overwhelming (especially as an introvert!). Taking a break for a few days is completely acceptable, and you'll come back with a refreshed outlook.
- Keep your feed genuine and positive - follow those who inspire you or who are filled with authenticity. I put off joining Twitter for a long time because I've heard that it is "toxic", but that depends on the people you follow and engage with. The Tech Twitter community is overall a very positive environment full of supportive people.
- Tech Twitter is 98% positive, but it still has trolls and negativity from time to time. You can mute, block, and/or report users who post offensive content.
- Join a challenge like #100DaysOfCode. This will connect you to others who are on similar paths. Or don't join, but comment and encourage those who are participating. Cheering someone on is a great way to start creating genuine connections.
- From an introvert's perspective, I recommend closing Direct Messages (DM), except if you and someone follow each other. Otherwise, you might find yourself with unsolicited (and sometimes perverse) messages, especially if you are a woman. This is one con of Twitter, but can be (mostly) avoided if you close your DMs to your network.
- Don't be a jerk. Seriously. Cancel culture is real on Twitter, and most of the time people get "cancelled" for repeatedly posting and commenting negatively.
- Have fun! Engaging with people all over the globe opens you up to an entirely different (online) world.
- When you first start out, feel free to take things slow. Work on getting used to engaging with strangers (this was the scariest point of taking the plunge, as I am a very shy person, but Twitter has immensely helped me come out of my shell). Once you're comfortable, you might want to figure out a goal for using the platform, and start taking steps to achieve those goals. Depending on your desired outcome, you'll need to navigate your interactions and tweets differently. Of course, goals may grow and change as you become more involved with the Twitterverse.
As I mentioned earlier, treat Twitter as a conversation; however, don't get discouraged if not everyone engages back. Especially for larger accounts, it may be difficult for someone to respond or like every comment. I personally try to at least like every comment, but I've had a few tweets where even that wasn't possible! Just keep actively engaging; I guarantee many people will reciprocate.
Don't judge others for using the platform in a way that is different from you (I've had this mindset). When I first joined, I wanted to build relationships, and that was it. I didn't understand why others would care about follower count or how to boost their engagement, but now that I've been on the platform for months, I do understand those reasonings now. The more followers you have means the more you can promote your work and help others. I used to think it was egotistical to self-promote, but now I believe self-promotion can gain you even more opportunities. In my opinion, building relationships is the best part about Twitter, but I now understand that it can be used for MANY purposes.
Different people enjoy different things; if you find that Twitter is not enjoyable, you can stop using it at any time. But I highly recommend giving it a try; there are seemingly unlimited opportunities available from Twitter once you are an active user.
Opportunities are abound on Twitter. Here are a few of the many benefits you can gain:
- As an introvert, you learn how to put yourself "out there" and talk to others regularly.
- Networking with other developers. You can talk to others in similar roles, in roles you aspire to achieve, or give advice those more junior than you. You can ask for help with coding problems, and the chance is high that someone will respond and try to assist you in finding the solution. You can learn new things every day by following and engaging with people who have expertise in different languages.
- When you build relationships from networking, you may be asked to join a podcast, YouTube video, or a networking event. After finding your voice on Twitter, you may find that you want to begin engaging on other platforms as well!
- Helping others. Even if you are a new developer, there is always someone who is newer than you, and Twitter provides you an opportunity to share your knowledge with others who have questions or need help. Tech Twitter includes a huge demographic of people who want to celebrate others' successes.
- Giveaways. You can find people giving things away regularly, and it is possible to win them!
As an introvert who gets anxious at the thought of meeting new people, joining a new social media site may seem overwhelming, but it's not as overwhelming as trying to meet people in "real" life. Also, as a developer, it is almost imperative that you talk to others in your field, especially if you are on a small team at work (or if you are the only developer!). The Tech Twitter community is overall a highly positive and inclusive space, and once you begin tweeting, you'll begin meeting people with similar aspirations across the world. If you decide that Twitter isn't for you, that's ok! But what's stopping you from giving it a go?
Bonus: Recommendations of Who to Follow
When I started my account, I had no clue as to who to follow. Here are a few of my favorite accounts (of people I regularly interact with) in alphabetical order:
- @agentm831: Mo is a fellow introvert who thinks Twitter can seem intimidating sometimes. His advice is, "If you are willing to open up, even a bit, you will find many awesome people out there."
- @anniebombanie_: Annie has a design background and shares her development journey, tips, and challenges she faces as a developer. She is relatable and genuine.
- @catalinmpit: Catalin is a superb content creator and developer. He blogs regularly about tips for development, and his feed is full of knowledge and wit.
- @catvscode: Cat is a developer and blogger with an amazing portfolio. She shares her true feelings about job hunting in the tech industry (it's not always sunshine and rainbows). If you are struggling to find a job in the tech world, you'll relate to what she shares.
- @CLSulzberger: C is a new developer learning to code. Most of his tweets are re-tweets, but he is very engaging in comments, and he is a nice person to get to know.
- @DThompsonDev: If you join Tech Twitter, Danny will show up on your feed at some point (probably regularly), so you might as well go ahead and follow him! He has an interesting journey into tech, and posts content to encourage and inspire new developers.
- @elaineinthebay: Elaine is a developer in the Bay area who loves conversation design, has an amazing portfolio, and tweets about her experience as a contractor; she also spreads encouragement with her tweets.
- @elyktrix: Kyle is a developer who builds a lot of cool projects. He'll set personal goals (e.g. build 7 versions of a portfolio in 7 days), and will share his progress and final results. He tweets about being a front-end developer, and now has a store where you can buy developer-related clothes.
- @FrancescoCiull4: Francesco is a developer from Italy who has challenged himself with casually interviewing other developers across the world. He's spoken with a LOT of great developers, and he has a YouTube channel where he documents his conversations. His Twitter and YouTube channel are full of inspiration from developers across the globe!
- @HTMLmom: Tay is a super-mom juggling parenting, college, and working. She shares her coding journey through college, and is a great person to follow, especially if you are a parent.
- @madsbrodt: Mads is a developer who is working on becoming fully self-employed. He tweets out tips for new developers, how to start your coding journey, and is great to follow for inspiration.
- @miss_lorsx: Lors is a full-time developer who also creates beneficial content for developers. On top of working and creating content, she is also a parent, and she is an inspiration for parent coders.
- @RiaCorpeno: Ria's journey into coding is very interesting - she started in chemistry, and after seeing developers code, fell in love with it. She blogs about coding and includes other developers in her posts who share their tips.
- @rothecoder: Ro is a developer who is passionate about physical and mental health (she even runs a Discord server for devs who help each other stay mentally healthy!), and she is one of the most supportive people I've had the honor of meeting on Twitter.
- @SimonHoiberg: Simon is a powerhouse business owner who shares useful libraries, code snippets, and tips to help you on your journey, especially if your goal is to be self-employed.
- @skay_tech: Skay is another parent coder who blogs about his journey. He doesn't only post about coding, which is a refreshing break in the stream of tech tweets.
- @svpino: Santiago has been working with Machine Learning for over 5 years, and if ML is interesting to you, he's someone you should follow!
- @TheJackForge: Jack documents his coding journey and provides a LOT of humor in his feed. If you think programming can't be funny, he'll prove you wrong!
- @tadaspetra: Tadas is a Senior Developer currently focusing on Flutter. He is also leaving his job to be self-employed, and is documenting his journey.
- @towernter: Tawanda provides memes for developers, and is a breath of fresh air between the more serious and productive tweets.
- And, if you want to follow me... @joojaco: I'm Sarah, and I tweet about coding as a parent, my journey through bootcamp, and random thoughts. My account is not 100% tech tweets, because my life involves so much more than tech.