This idea may seem utterly obvious but I assure you that there is wisdom in this advice.
The power in online social networking is the first half of the term, so be social!
Social networks were not originally created with businesses in mind, they were created for real people to make or reinforce or support connections with other real people.
I think online social networking is great fun. I’ve been part of MySpace and Plaxo for years now (along with some others) and have just gotten into Facebook and Twitter over the last couple years.
But online social networking can be good for business (hence, the reason I offer an e-course about it) and apparently the networks themselves agree: for example, Facebook Pages is specifically for services and products. There are even “business” social networks like Biznik and StartupNation.
But when businesses create profiles but forget to “connect” and be social, they are doing themselves a disservice. You will get a huge return on your time investment in social networking if you can connect with other members.
Here are a few key ways to connect:
- Participate in groups. This is the most effective way to grow your friends list. This takes time, but you need to find a couple groups to belong to, submit a few relevant comments every now and then, maybe participate in a forum discussion, AND THEN invite others in the group to be your friend.
- Get personal. Make sure there is something personal about you on your profile. You absolutely need a personal photograph of yourself first and foremost, but you could also include your marital status, whether or not you have children, where you went to college or high school, or some likes/dislikes or favorites.
- Respond to comments. I’m guilty of neglecting this key principle but it is really important if you want to use social networks for business growth. Make sure you respond to comments and messages. No one likes to feel ignored. Take the time to do this act of common courtesy at least once weekly.
- Invite your real friends/colleagues. Make sure you take advantage of every network’s feature that searches your contact lists to find people who are already part of the network. It’s quick, easy, and it’s a great way to make connects almost instantly.
If you’re concerned about time there are a number of ways to make it worth your while: you can outsource the setup and management or you can create a social network marketing plan that takes time into consideration. If you’re curious how to make it work for you, feel free to check out my free social networking e-course at http://blog.allamericanadmin.com. The link is in the left sidebar.