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There are so many options for social networks and it is important that you make wise choices as to which ones you use. Think of social networking sites in the same way that I asked you think about in-person business networks, it is a good idea to participate in a few of them. However, if you participate in too many you will spread yourself too thin and your relationships with people in the online world may be very superficial. Because of this I recommend that you participate in three networks at any given time.
Keep in mind that by a network I am referring to an online networking portal where people gather to share information, collaborate, and discuss. Given how many networks there are and how quickly they change. How do you know which would be the best three for you to join? First, consider their popularity. In your region or country, there are likely social networks that are more popular than others. I recommend that you participate in the most popular networks available to you.
Next consider your target market. your customers are the people that you are trying to market your services to. This target market is likely to have a social network where they tend to gather so that is a social network you want to join. Finally, consider the context. For example, historically, MySpace was designed for fun while LinkedIn was created as a social network for business professionals to connect. I recommend that you participate in networks that give you a chance to interact with your connections in both a professional and a personal way. Why? Well there is an important principle that holds true in both the physical and digital world, if you talk about business and nothing else when you meet someone.
The conversation usually is very dry and does not lead to a strong professional connection. If however you add in just a bit of your hobbies, your families, and your likes, and your dislikes the professional connection takes on a richer, deeper context, and this is usually more friendly and relaxed. By mixing a couple of social networks with a different context and purposes, you will be able to connect with people on multiple levels. Just be careful not to share too much personal information or anything that is private.
A little bit shared online goes a very long way. Focus on three online social networks, use them consistently. And you will find they enhance your professional connections.
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