What is Social Networking and Why Should I Care? (part 2 of 3)

Where your offline networking has certain limitations – you can present talks, rent booths, or work the crowd – online social networking offers you many ways to show up. Here are just a few tips to get you started.

  1. Post blog entries and articles on your page to share sidelights on your work. What do you think about the hottest issue in your field? What’s the latest trend you’re seeing? How are current affairs affecting your business? How many people came to buy carbon offsets from you after Al Gore won the Nobel? What’s been the impact of Britney’s child-custody woes on your family-mediation caseload? Has Oprah’s thyroid issue raised the number of your patients with similar symptoms? When you comment on the news, tie in the services you offer, gently, without a hard sell. In other words, use the news to make yourself news.
  2. Offer entertainment! If there’s a question that all your clients ask, or a hot issue that they all want to discuss, use your video camera or Powerpoint files to create a presentation about it. If you’re an artist, gather digital versions of your most popular pieces into a slide show. Or if your topic doesn’t offer much visual potential, download free audio software like Audacity and create a podcast. Be sure to add keywords and descriptions to each file you upload to help the search engines find you. If you’re presenting valuable information – not just a sales spiel, remember, but real information that potential clients need and can use – you’ll find your uploads will quickly go viral as viewers “favorite” them, post them on their blogs, and pass them around.
  3. Spread yourself around! Join several social networks and post new content in each of them – perhaps a video on YouTube, a slide show on Flickr, an expert article on EzineArticles, perhaps a “business issues” blog on Blogger and a “product review” blog on WordPress, maybe even an encyclopedic resource lens on Squidoo – and then link to each on your primary social networking page. You can create a wikizine on Zimbio and fill it with articles from your blog(s), as well as articles from other sources (be sure to include the author’s bio page and link!).
  4. Cross-link, don’t cross-post. It’s easy to get scattered in a Web 2.0 environment and put out tons of content that never gets picked up on the search engines. Remember – cross-links equal traffic! Effective cross-linking will build your search engine ranking. Cross-posting, however – that is, posting identical content in several places – will yield a lower ranking, if you’re ranked at all. Cross-posting is considered spamming – don’t do it.
  5. Have a strategy, don’t scattershoot. You may choose to keep links to all your social network posts on a single profile (FaceBook is good for this), or you may want to embed cross-links embedded in each posting you offer. Make sure that whatever content you upload to the Web includes your name, business contact information, and website (or social networking address).

While you’re – in a sense – giving this information away, the gift is actually a hook to bring clients to your door. Rest assured, other social networkers are doing the same thing, seeding the Internet with their content!

You might be asking – this is a great way for getting my name across the Web, but what does it have to do with networking? The answer? Stay tuned for next week’s post!

Oh, and while you’re waiting for the next post, check out this excellent video on the larger potential of Web 2.0…


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