If Digg, MySpace, and FaceBook are foreign concepts to you, it might be time to find out what the social networking phenomenon is all about. Social networking can be a way to maximize your online presence. If you have dipped your toe into this strategy and are wondering what it's worth, don't give up too soon.
Social networking is not so much about what you can gain immediately, but what you may be able to gain longer term, once your networking efforts have become personalized. Here is a primer on how to get ready to join, and eventually benefit from, the social networking trend.
- Read 10 blogs. Sign up for a Bloglines account and search for and subscribe to 10 blogs about social networking. You can return to your page on Bloglines to read all the new content. Of course, you can add blogs about your industry and interests there, too.
- Comment on 10 blogs. Posting relevant comments on the blogs you read is a simple form of social networking. It's also a good way to get extra visitors to your site or blog.
- Join Facebook. You'd be surprised at how many of your existing customers and contacts have Facebook accounts. With its rich set of tools and large community of active users, Facebook is a great place to observe how people interact in social networks. Once you get your feet wet, you can use Facebook to connect with business contacts you don't bump into often.
- Create a MySpace page. This service is embraced primarily by musicians and the younger set, but it's a great tool for learning how to build a presence outside of your website. It also happens to have a large underbelly contingent, so be warned.
- Join LinkedIn. This service has been called "the Facebook for business." It's about meeting and connecting with like minded businesspeople, and it's great for making connections with people who may otherwise be out of reach.
- Visit Ning. This is the largest custom social networking service that allows you to create your own community, using a variety of tools branded to match your current site.
- Create a Workbench profile. This tip is developed by John Jantsch, who is providing this primer. It's a new social business networking site and an example, Jantsch contends, of the next wave of personalized business communities for entrepreneurs.
- Create a Twitter account. Twitter is pretty silly on the surface: It gives you up to 160 characters to tell your network what you're doing right now. It feels like a giant waste of time, but a large and active community has formed around this kind of microblogging, and it is worth your while to understand how people are using it.
- Create a StumbledUpon profile. This social network is built around discovering and recommending sites you like. Active stumblers can send a lot of traffic your way.
- Create a Digg account. Keep updated with what's happening in the world of business and join other users by submitting content and voting on what you consider most important.
Also consider Flikr, Mixx and Squidoo as places to find and develop niche communities when you're ready to really get out there. Think of Facebook, LinkedIn and MySpace as your labs, three good places to try out and experiment for the future. Then start planning your own personalized social business network.
Information in this article was edited from a story by John Jantsch on Entrepreneur.com. Jantsch is a marketing coach, award winning blogger and the author of, "Duct Tape Marketing: The World's Most Practical Small Business Marketing Guide."
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