We now live in an age when everybody talks about Social Media and Social Networks and Social Marketing, but what IS social networking? And what makes it so attractive to home business enthusiasts and Internet Marketers?
Here is the simple answer to what social networking really is: It is being part of a social group or community of people who want to connect or communicate with others to share a common interest. The interests can be varied and will depend on the group, which may include family, friends, strangers or any combination thereof. This is attractive to entrepreneurs and marketers because of the potential for some of the contacts to become customers or business associates.
There is also the potential for people in one social network to tell their contacts in other social groups about you, and in turn, for those people to tell others, and so on. You might be able to reach far more prospects through this form of social networking than you could have otherwise. And other than the time it takes to be social with the members of your various networks, it doesn’t have to cost you anything.
In the days before the Internet, people would network socially in local community clubs and associations. Some of these might have been organized community groups, while others were informal, but regular, social gatherings, like your weekly night out with the guys or gals.
Today, in addition to those same offline social groups, there are countless social networking sites on the Internet. Some are large and well known, like Facebook and Twitter, offering a platform where members can become involved in any number of special interest sub-groups or circles. Other sites are smaller and designed to cater to interest groups within a very specific niche.
In all cases, the purpose is to give members a place and a means to interact with each other in a friendly, supportive environment. This could involve texting, live chatting, sharing photos, videos and other media, and basically enjoying the opportunities for social contact with others.
In some of the mainstream social networks online, direct promoting of your business opportunities and products and services is not encouraged or allowed, although some of the networking sites do provide a way or a means to do this while keeping within their guidelines.
Your goal on networking sites that do not encourage direct marketing is simply to become known as a member who visits regularly and contributes value to the topics and discussions. Share your knowledge, your insight and your expertise in your niche without being promotional. Inform the members of your groups, but do not sell to them.
In fact, this is a good practice to follow even on business social networking sites. The aim of every professional business person should be to brand themselves as either an expert in their niche, or as a preferred source for the products and services they provide. If you focus too much on promoting your products, other members will soon learn to tune you out and may ignore you entirely.
On the other hand, if you use the networking site as a place simply to develop social contacts and to share knowledge and insight that is of value to your targeted prospects, you will be appreciated and stand a greater chance of drawing qualified prospects to your website.
What IS Social Networking? Very simply, it is all about joining various social groups to meet people, share interests and knowledge, and connect with wider and wider circles of contacts that you might otherwise never have the chance to meet. Approach this professionally and your business will benefit.