It seems like every time I turn around, there is chatter going on about social networking. While there are plenty of users out there, there are even more who either just don’t understand or are frightened by it.
Social networking is a very powerful and effective means of communicating with not only our friends and colleagues, but with prospects and target markets as well. It provides us with an opportunity to establish an online presence and a way to promote products and services.
The world of online social networking is much like networking in person, but easier if you ask me. If you’re not very social, then online social networking is a great way to break out of your shell. Best of all, the more often you do it, the more skilled you will become.
It used to be that we had just a few moments to make an impression, whether it be on an elevator or at a networking meeting like the local BNI group I’m a member of. Today, first impressions are often made online through our Web site, via a social network, or even through search engines!
When getting started with social networking, you must first determine which network is right for you. As a man of business, the first network I would highly recommend is LinkedIn. It is a great way to connect with contacts and, like many networks, get introduced to new contacts along the way. Your LinkedIn profile will also be picked up by search engines, helping with establishing your online presence.
Facebook is another network for newbies who don’t know where to start. Once just for college students, Facebook has since opened up to the general public and has been well received. It contains few SPAM profiles (unlike MySpace) and very useful applications for connecting and staying up-to-date with what your friends are doing.
If you’re into blogging, then try micro blogging with Twitter. Basically, the service allows you to post status updates of where you’re at and what you’re doing. You can post tweets (that’s what they’re called) from practically anywhere! From the Web, an instant messaging client, via text message, an iPhone application, and more. Best of all, you can also syndicate your feed to a Web site or service like Plaxo.
Speaking of Plaxo, if you’re looking for a way to link together many of your social networking profiles, this is the service for you. Not only can your Plaxo profile pull in your blog entries, tweets, Facebook notes, and more, but it also securely keeps your address book up-to-date. You can see who’s doing what all over the Web.
The number one key to establishing yourself with online social networks is having a good photo. It doesn’t have to be a Glamour Shot or professional photograph, just one that best represents your personality. That way, if you choose to friend someone who may not be too familiar with your name, they will at least be able to recognize you by your photograph.
Try out all of the above network sites. You’ll discover how fun and natural they will all feel to you. If you’re worried about not having any friends, you can start by adding me (see below)! Of course, you can always contact me at the office and I will be happy to discuss how your business can leverage social media to work for you.