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

So we’ve talked about how Web 2.0 social networking is similar to offline networking, and about all the many ways you can show up on social networks…

Now – here’s the catch: remember all those new friends you’ve been making?

When you correspond with new colleagues or prospects in real time, do you send them only your own work? Not if you’re wise! You might send them a New York Times article, an inspirational Neal Donald Walsch clip, a podcast from the latest Bioneers conference, and – oh, yes, by the way, here’s your latest piece of work! And they’ll probably be doing the same thing for you.

This is where the “social” part of social networking takes over. You and your social network don’t just share your work and other favorite content among yourselves. You’re actually working together to promote each other. Imagine a professional business referral group on steroids, and you have a rough idea of the power that social networking can offer.

How does it work? Through the many Web 2.0 “social posting” tools. Let’s say one of your new friends sends you a blog post or video they made. Sure, you can comment on it and include your link with the comment. But why stop there?
• You can bookmark it on De.licio.us…a service that not only holds your bookmarks for you, but also tags them for the world as bookmark-worthy….
• Add it to your Google favorites – again tagging them in the process…
• Review it on your Facebook profile with Shareaholic
• Recommend it to other people using social-posting tools like StumbleUpon, Digg, or Technorati….
• If it’s relevant to your field, post it to your Zimbio wikizine…
• In fact, you might want to send your recommendations for a really good site across the web to multiple networks by using services like Addthis, SocialMarker, SocialPoster, or Pingoat.

This is all part of the new Web 2.0 “netiquette” – sure, you can Digg or Stumble your own content, but you can only do it once per posting without getting “slapped” or penalized in your search engine ranking. Rather like spamming: nice people don’t do it. Just as in offline business, the Golden Rule rules – if you give recommendations to others, you are likelier to receive recommendations in return.

In fact, your recommending others’ sites is all part of being a good “Net citizen,” indicating that you’re not head-down focused on marketing your own product or service, but actively taking part in the greater world around you.

There’s much more you can do in a Web 2.0 environment – this brief intro barely scrapes the surface. For an excellent overview of all these tools and concepts, see Mike Mindel’s summary of content from The Thirty Day Challenge by Ed Dale and Dan Raines.

Oh, and if this sounds like a lot of work, rest easy! A blog entry doesn’t need to be more than a couple of paragraphs, a couple of times a week. A video or podcast, of course, is more effort, and at the same time it will go further and last longer, much as a brochure or magazine ad might.

And remember, there’s nothing requiring you to do this writing yourself! Many writers (like Your Words’ Worth) can help you to keep a stream of posts flowing to your target audience. Some (also like Your Words’ Worth) will even write your audio script and then do the voiceover for you.

So – what are you waiting for? There’s a world of social networks out there – have fun!


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