Social Networking - Wise To Be Social

Social networking can help a business gain contacts, clients, and increased public awareness.

Even entrepreneurs who run small businesses from their homes can take advantage of this resource to set up a global presence.

To make the most of social networking, it's important to fully understand the concept of social networking and how it can be applied in ways that will help you grow your business.

What is it?

Even before the Internet, social networking existed. In a nutshell, social networking is when a person uses already existing contacts to meet new people as potential social or business links. Such links, in turn, will help expand future connections. Small and local businesses can even do this simply by attending community events or participating in trade shows.

Anything that gets the company name out there, or connects your company to helpful resources, is considered networking. Technology now makes this possible to do online, and not just face-to-face.

How can it be done Online?

One can compare social networking to the concept of the six-degrees of separation. Based on the idea that any two people can be connected through a chain of five or less intermediaries, social networking can occur through social network sites and communities that may not have formed before the Internet. Through these sites, people join, and then invite their established contacts to do the same. Those contacts will likewise invite other individuals.

Social networking sites are created to assist in online networking. These sites are generally communities created to support a common theme. Since the creation of social networking sites such as MySpace, LinkedIn, and Facebook, individuals are given opportunities to meet new people and friends in their own community and across the world.

Businesses can follow this trend. MySpace encourages smaller and medium-sized busiensses to set up an online storefront as a way to advertise and promote business activities. By doing so, individuals can become "friends" or "fans" of the profile, and will be updated on current events, specials, and other essential information the business would like to share.

Using the six-degrees of separation concept, a new friend will expose your business to a new set of people who are listed as their respective friends.

Does it Work?

It can work as long as you treat online social networking just as you would if you were doing it in person. Be an active member of a community or site. That being said, it is only as valuable as the amount of effort you want to put into it. Just like meeting face-to-face, a first impression is a lasting one. Remember to create a page that reflects the atmosphere of your business.

Written by Amy Bax for Gaebler Ventures