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#5.07: The “Social Networking” Issue

Social Networking websites (such as LinkedIn, Spoke, Tribe, Visible Path, Orkut, and AlwaysOn) can be great business tools or a major annoyance. Learn how to use them well.

1> Find Your Forum
2> Perfect Professional Presentation
3> Invite the Already Interested
4> Keep to Close Connections
5> Write it Well
6> Refer Reluctantly

1> Find Your Forum

Each networking site has its own specialty. Friendster is generally for the kids and dating. LinkedIn, Spoke, and Orkut are geared toward business networking. If you’re not in the right place, you’re not going to find the right relationships.

2> Perfect Professional Presentation

A sloppy profile reflects directly on you. On a social networking site your profile is your appearance. Would you rather your profile said, “Armani” or “Albert”? Treat your profile like a resume.

3> Invite the Already Interested

Look for people you know who are already members of the site. Inviting them is a good start. Accepting an extra connection is much easier than signing up for a new account. If you’re spending your time recruiting your friends, you’re doing more for the network than it is doing for you.

4> Keep to Close Connections

When using the network to meet someone, don’t ask a friend to ask a friend to ask a friend to help you make a new connection. It’s rude, and it doesn’t work. Stick to direct introductions. These networks are built on the six-degrees-of-separation concept, but it’s still not worth bothering five people in the middle.

5> Write it Well

People judge you on your messages, much like your profile. So be sure your messages are clean, professional, and direct. Go over your communications carefully. Only ask for very, very specific things. No one has time for the casual, “Hey, I’d like to meet you” chatter.

6> Refer Reluctantly

Be cautious when you get asked to refer someone to one of your connections. You can easily ruin trust within a relationship by making bad referrals — or by making too many referrals. Keep your matchmaking to people you know. Only make matches when there is a good reason to do so.

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