Social networking is the newest buzz phrase circulating around executive water coolers, these days. Most of us already know what it means, but in case you Rip Van Winkled the past three years, the skinny is: Online Social Networking means creating profiles for yourself and your business on an array of media outlets for the purpose of building relationships and audiences. Put simply… it’s p.r. for 2009.
There are quite a few websites that encourage human connections and audience building, including MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Jaiku, Yammer, Tumblr, Posterous and Plurk. There are more, and yes, some sound like Star Trek Federations, but if you get hung up there, you’re completely missing the point.
Social Networking online is all about connection. The more synchronicity you can achieve, the bigger an audience you can build. The more "real" and "normal" you are, the bigger an audience you can build. The more creative and forward-thinking you are, the bigger an audience you can build.
So, what does that look like? It means creating accounts with multiple online social networks; making sure your profile is accurate and honest; using web technology to tie together your networking profiles (like having your Tweets, Twitter posts, dynamically feed into your company’s website); updating regularly; and, here’s the kicker… reading other’s posts, responding to their ideas, all the while being as interesting as you can.
It can be a challenge, but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. There are even some who have become "professional bloggers" or "professional online media mavens." Do they make a living? Some do. But most of the rest of us don’t have to be so avid (or aggressive).
Just set aside a little time every day and begin building. Be consistent. And, actually have fun. It is fun and it can be very productive in brand building and grassroots p.r.