My approach to business social networking is kind of like how I approach real life networking – find like minded people who are open to some level of business relationships:
- a resource to answer a question
- a potential source of client/customer referral
- a link/article exchange partner
- a possible guest poster on one of my blogs
I recently heard a Ken McCarthy interview of James Clark (Room 214, endlesswormhole.com) in which James discussed the various social networking tools. I was familiar with some of the tools and not familiar with others. I will continue to update this page as I learn more and I invite anyone who has ideas about this topic to contact me and guest post on this topic:
- Linkedin.com – this one is fairly well known – you establish 1st degree connections and thereafter you gain access to the connections of those people in your network. I find LinkedIn helpful as a kind of on-line catalog of many of the people I know in the business community. I also occasionally get business referrals, but not very often. There is a fellow named Marc Freedman in Dallas who is using LinkedIn as the starting point for an enhanced networking group within LinkedIn. I am linked to Marc but have not yet pursued his enhanced networking sites and features.
- Facebook.com – this is more of a social networking as opposed to a business networking. I created a profile to keep an eye on my teenagers. It turns out, however, that a lot of adults use Facebook and I sometimes see business profiles. This, too, is a good way to keep up with folks that you don’t see much – high school classmates, college classmates, etc. You can find people with Facebook profiles by using their “friend finder” that looks for people in your Gmail, Yahoo or other email accounts who also have a Facebook profile.
- Twitter – this is a “microblogging” site where you set out in a couple of sentences what you are doing. You can also include links to sites you are looking at or resources you have found. Because you only have 140 characters to say what you are doing, you have to be concise. Based on your profile, others can find you and they can “follow” your Twitter activities. Similarly, you can follow others. Right now, I follow 8 others and 22 people are following me. I picked up a bunch of followers when Grant Griffiths (lawyer who is a friend of a friend and who has a very active blog presence) commented favorably on a “how to” video I posted on my consulting blog (www.rent-my-brain.net). You can search for contacts who have a Twitter account within the Twitter application – using your email contact lists. There are also a variety of 3rd party services like Twubble that let you search the Twitter network for people who you may want to follow. You do have the capacity to block followers (like those lonely marriage seeking Russian women who have been stalking me!). It is not uncommon for legitimate people who I do not know to follow me on Twitter. If anyone is interested, my Twitter handle is jginsberg.
- StumbleUpon.com – this is an application that you add to your browser. It puts a “Stumble!” button on your browser. If you are on a page and you hit the button, it will take you to a random page about a similar topic. You can set your topic preferences as well. You can also add your own input but giving a particular page a thumbs up or a thumbs down. Presumably pages with positive votes will be more widely circulated on the StumbleUpon network.
- Digg.com – digg is a service that allows you to vote for stories or blog posts that you like. More and more, blogs, newspaper sites and other web sites have a social networking toolbar where you can “spread the word.” Other, similar services to digg are reddit, del.icio.us, furl. If you find a story you like, you click the digg button. This will take you to a screen where you log in to your digg account, describe the story and write a brief summary. The digg system then checks for duplicates. If someone has already submitted your story/article, you can vote to digg it or bury it. Assuming no duplicates, the story goes into a topic directory (technology, world and business, science, gaming, lifestyle, entertainment, sports, offbeat). Other digg members can peruse this repository of stories and cast votes to digg (thumbs up) or bury (thumbs down). Articles/blog posts with a lot of digg votes will also see a spike in traffic (and likely more blog subscribers as well). I am starting to see blog posters openly solicit their readers to digg blog posts. Obviously, digg works best within a community of readers who understand how it works, but this could be a very viable way to get spikes of traffic. I also think that you can get some good ideas about how to write headlines by looking at the most popular digg posts. Here is an interesting take about how to get your article a high profile on digg.
- FriendFeed.com – this is an aggregator. You create an account then load the user name and password for your various services (like Twitter, StumbleUpon, YouTube, digg, del.icio.us, etc.). You then search for others in your address book who also have a FriendFeed account and you can see all of their social network activity in one place. My FriendFeed name is jginsberg (http://friendfeed.com/jginsberg) and so far, no one I know has a FriendFeed account. I can see my own activity but for now, that’s it.
Social Networking Management tools – on my Twitter account I follow noted search engine expert Brad Fallon. Brad lives in the Atlanta area and I have had the opportunity to meet and chat with him several times. On a recent “tweet” (a post on Twitter), Brad posted a link to a Search Engine land article about social networking tools that is relevant to this page. See how easy this is!