"Social Networking" is the hottest growing trend on the Internet, and it's addictive. It's easy to do and it's a powerful and non-intrusive way to keep in touch with your business and personal contacts. Various social networking sites differ in their design, but generally share in the following characteristics -
- You can create a profile, and link your profile to other people's profiles.
- You can share comments, photos, videos and news articles with others in your network. You can post a link to a slide show of your latest vacation, which will inform your network of your posting and allow others comment on it.
- You will have a dashboard showing you updates and will be able to get a report sent to you via email on a weekly basis informing you of the actions (profile changes) of people in your network. So if your cousin in Indiana, joins the Michael Bolton Fan Club on Facebook you'll know. You can also be notified if a friend posts a recommendation of a particular restaurant, movie or posts a written recommendation of a person's services.
To some it may seem like a waste of time, but what social networking really does is it shapes your own personal social landscape. It gives you deeper insight into the lives of those you know. Most important - it's viral and communicates in real time. The average user of LinkedIn visits their profile more than twice a week. Many Facebook users use the service 2-3 times a day. In short it's these type of social networking services have become part of the lives of the users and it is changing the way these people interact and BUY.
How do you take advantage of these trends? Join several of these networks - it's free. Create a profile and keep it up to date. Search for people you know by name and if you find their profile, click to add them as a connection. Network and become part of the conversation with both other business people and clients. Keep your profile and activities professional. When meeting people in person, ask clients if they have a Facebook or Linked in account and link to (or "Friend") these contacts.
How do you know which social network to join? There are literally hundreds of social networking sites, but I suggest you focus on these three. You probably should join more than one, here's where to start :
- LinkedIn - this is a professional social networking community, and it's growing by leaps and bounds. Chances are that half your chamber of commerce members have profiles. This is the first network I'd join. Don't forget to join the CruiseOne or Cruises Inc Group.
- FaceBook - this social networking community that perfectly mixes business and pleasure. It's a great place to share slide shows, videos and even polls. Clients can tag themselves as fans of products and it's easy to start up discussion groups. The audience isn't quite as young as MySpace and tends to be a bit more wholesome than MySpace. It's generally described as "the social network you can tell your mom about."
- MySpace - MySpace has the largest user base, but many of those users are teens and young adults. MySpace has gotten some fairly negative press, and it's somewhat undeserved. If you're choosing an additional social network to add to the mix this one's good, but it wouldn't be my only social network.
Once you join, connect to me and you'll have your first connection! You can even request to join the CruiseOne or Cruises Inc LinkedIn groups. Search for (and add) other people you know to your network and before you know it you'll have a following of loyal clients and friends reccomending your services to their friends. And in today's market these referrals are priceless!