Today I begin a short series of posts designed to help newbies understand some social media strategy behind the professional use of Twitter.

The first question is: Why are you on Twitter?

A. To talk to friends: If that’s the only reason you’re on Twitter you can do whatever you like – just think seriously about protecting your tweets so that only people you know and trust can see them!

B. Professional networking: Whether you are still in school, just starting a career or are well into a career Twitter allows you to build connections with interesting and relevant people around the world who are working and talking about topics related to your interests.

So, if “B” is your choice you will want to get the most out of Twitter – consider doing the following …

1. Make your profile public: You want to connect with people so keep your account open because you are going to be professional on this account, right?

2. Choose a Twitter name that is your entire name or at least your first name and last initial or a variation of your name. Be sure your real name is somewhere on your public profile.

3. Fill in your location with your real location: This will connect you with others in your area with whom you can network in real life.

4. Work on your bio so that it says something about your professional activities and aspirations but also displays a little of your personality. You’ve got 160 characters – choose them wisely.

5. Choose an avatar photo that is more face than anything else: Avoid the temptation to try to be too cute. Your genuine face shot is part of who you are.

6. Choose your URL wisely: If you have a complete Linkedin page link to that. If you have your own name as a URL and you use that website to highlight your skills and talents – even better – link to that.

7. Start following others slowly: Find relevant people in your business or with related interests and follow just a very few at a time. There is no science to this but if your “Following” number is more than five times higher than your number of “Followers” you may seem desperate for followers.

8. Don’t just follow anyone: Following people just because they follow you is not a requirement in Twitter. Following back should be reserved for people you are genuinely interested in learning from and about.

9. Pay attention to others’ tweets: You will learn a lot by just “listening.” When the time is right (you see something you want to comment on or you want to thank someone for sharing something send them an “@” message. These tweets are the beginnings of real conversations with people who may one day become part of your professional network.

10. Retweet judiciously: When you read something that really means something to you or you think some of your followers might appreciate retweet (RT) it. If there is room add a comment explain why you like it.

So, there you have it, the first Twitter 101 lesson. What do you think? Will this help a social media strategy newbie?