5 Ways to Master Social Networking

Web sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and ActiveRain present a golden opportunity to connect with friends, colleagues, and clients.

April 1, 2009

You hear a lot about social media today, and rightly so.

Get the most benefit from these tools by following these basic rules:

Be authentic. Your profile is the first thing people will see when they visit your page. Be truthful about who you are and what you do. Details are a good thing. Calling yourself a "real estate expert" isn’t as informative as "20 years working with Keller Williams, specializing in urban condos." Providing nuggets about your life outside of work (everyone loves to see photos) adds a human element to who you are, and that builds relationships.

Be an observer. Spend time researching Facebook groups, fan pages, and events related to your niche. How do they communicate with their members? How does the administrator facilitate meetings? How active are the discussion boards and wall posts? After joining Twitter, follow key people related to your interest. Observe the types of information they provide and how they engage with their followers.

Be a giver, not a taker. Share information with your network—without expecting something in return. Post a link to a great article or video, and provide insightful comments on links that other people post. Take time to build a relationship with people in your network. The more resources you provide, the more trust you build and the more potential clients you create.

Be a sleuth. Sign up at TweetBeep.com to get e-mail alerts when keywords related to you or your business appear in a Twitter message, or "tweet."

Be organized. Use Facebook lists to group your contacts—coworkers, high school friends, neighbors, past clients, and so on. You can create lists by clicking on the "Friends" link on the top of your profile page, and then clicking on "Make a New List" on the left side of the screen. This makes communications easier as you grow a large network of friends. Create similar groupings with your Twitter contacts; check out the application called TweetDeck (click on "Apps" at the bottom of the Twitter home page) and TwitterGroups.

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Blagica Bottigliero is a social media specialist in the consumer brands group of public relations firm Edelman. She is the founder of GalsGuide.com and an Emmy winner for her work with NBC5 Chicago Street Team.