Do you need more exposure for your business? Do you want ways to connect quickly with many people? Then social networking is for you!
Many entrepreneurs, like myself, are on social network sites. The opportunity to expose our business is there, but do we understand how to use it to grow? Web 2.0 has greatly changed the face of business—it is simply amazing! What you want to realize is that trusted friends—online and offline—refer and do business faster and more efficiently than, say, advertising.
Here are my tips on using online social networking to increase your business:
1. Join sites that interest you, so you will have fun participating. Pick sites that will you a chance to showcase your expertise. For me, being a member on WomenCo.  has allowed me to share my insights as an entrepreneurial woman which increases my business exposure.
2. When you sign up, make sure you are a real person! Don’t be “sxychk2008” or “businessmama.” Use your real name not your company name because it feels like you are selling your business. After all, how can people do business with you if they cannot find you? As a small business owner, I need people to be able to get access to me easily – the harder I make it the less likely they are to do so. And your name should always be search-engine optimized!
3. Actively participate by commenting on discussions and starting your own discussions. Be careful that you do not shove your business down everyone’s throat! A common mistake I see is someone joins the network then immediately posts a “discussion” about his or her business. Your profile is about what you do! When you can weave your expertise into a discussion, then you build your business credibility. Remember, you are there to be social first. Your business can grow because you “play” according to the site users’ interests!
4. Spell check all your posts! Type your posts in Word, and then copy and paste! Depending on how serious you are, I highly recommend an editor.
5. RSS your blog to your personal page if at all possible and then people can learn more about you. If you cannot do that, at least post the link!
6. Get a quality picture of yourself and use it—it will go everywhere you post! People always tell me they can feel my positive energy from my picture. A good picture should showcase the “real you.”
7. Post comments on others’ discussions.
8. Be careful who you become “friends” with—do your homework first. I had one woman ask me to be her friend, and she turned out to be a card-carrying member of a cult-like organization! Not the right connection for me!
9. Make sure you get email reminders if people comment on your discussions or leave messages for you! You do not want to forget, you want to be prompt, and it’s a good way to remember to check out what’s going on the site regularly!
10. Show up! Social networks will not help you grow if you do not show up! Plan to be on the site at least three times a week.
By Ann Evanston
This article is reprinted from WomenCo .