How Do I Make the Most of Twitter?

Dear Experts, I'm signed up with Twitter and have been tinkering with it. I have 21 followers and 50 people/groups I'm following. But I'm still not clear how to use Twitter. J.T. O'Donnell writes on April 27th of the generosity of Twitter users, "the most giving community I've ever experienced." I read about making professional contacts and meeting people from around the world. Sounds great, and I would be happy to take part, to contribute, to offer what knowledge have to help others. But just posting random tweets seems rather pointless, especially related to Paris Hilton or Susan Boyle. I can search for more people to connect to, but that feels rather like wandering around too. For us new to Twitter, what are the details involved for actually connecting, actually taking part in this generous community, as opposed to signing up for just another blog? I have a specific goal in terms of finding freelance opportunities. In return I can certainly offer contacts/help/advice/knowledge to others on a wide variety of topics, and I would be delighted to be part of the generous community I read about. But I'm somewhat at a loss to figure out just exactly how to make either the receiving or the giving happen.   Here is how our T.A.P. experts answered this question:@juliaericksonQ#174 Follow tweeps in field, use related hashtags 2 find/b found, RT their tweets, respond, ask Qs; be polite. @beneubanksQ#174 At first, spend 50% tweets RTing others, 35% building/maintaining connections, and 15% original thoughts. @gradversityQ#174 Branding is important on Twitter. Branding yourself as a freelance expert will allow you to create a presence and network. @ValueIntoWordsQ#174 Zero in on niche topic; tweet value-focused responses; RT similarly focused posts; comment on blogs, then RT. @dawnbugniQ#174 Engage. Interact. Talk. Offer advice. Answer questions. It's SOCIAL media. Be social. Takes effort-worth it! Our Twitter Advice Project (T.A.P.) is no longer an active campaign. To find an answer to the above question, please use the "Search" box in the right-hand column of this website.