Are You Getting The Most Out Of Your Social Network

Are You Getting The Most Out Of Your Social Network?
I hear them all the time; I don’t get Social Networking.  I have a Facebook account but what good is it?  These things just waste time.  I don’t have time to Tweet.  Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, how do you choose?
First an admission.  My name is Randy and I use social networks.  What does that mean?  It means I am no longer just a casual Facebooker.  It means I actually use social networking tools as business tools.  This isn’t new.  Business professionals have been networking for generations.  Formally and informally people have been using their connections to benefit their business.  All the social networking tools have just moved this into the digital age.  I no longer have to physically interact with someone to make contact.  I can be in front of my network multiple times a day while still in my office, or sitting on a beach.  This in no way replaces personal interaction.  Face to face meetings are, and always will be, the best way to build relationships.  Social networking allows me to enhance these relationships very efficiently.  It allows me to be in front of my networks and interacting, in at least a limited way, with these people far more often than is possible in the physical realm.
I won’t get into a discussion here as to weather or not social networking is a beneficial activity.  I will assume if you are still reading that you have already come to that conclusion on your own.
So now to the heart of the discussion.  How does one “get the most out of your social networking”?  Like most other things I have experienced in life I find the old saying to be true: “what you get out is directly proportionate to what you put in”.  This means I have to be proactive.  If I want people to pay attention to me I have to be relevant.  I have to post comments that are consistent with the image I want to portray.  But one of the keys in this statement is that I do have to post comments.  Just like in the physical realm, people are attracted to people who are interesting to them.  So if you want to build a network of business professionals then post interesting comments on business.  Talk about your business world.
The other key is that developing a good social network takes work.  If you are developing a social network in the physical realm, you have to get out and meet people.  You have to interact.  It is the same in the digital realm.  There are some things you have to do.  I have already discussed the importance of posting regularly but that is just the obvious part.  You also have to work at building your network.  You need to invest time.  LinkedIn has done a good job of helping us do this.  You will notice they have 1st, 2nd and 3rd degree connections.  Look at the connections of your connections (2nd degree).  Invite people who interest you to connect.  The most obvious of these are the people you already know but are not connected to already.  You can of course also do this with Facebook and Twitter.
The bottom line is that being a great networker takes work in both the real world and the digital word.  So if you want the benefits of having a great network then you have to put in the time and effort to build one.  The other tricks and tools for building your network will be another blog.  Hopefully this one just got you thinking.