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LinkedIn and Facebook and MySpace … Oh My!

The secret to making the most of your online networks

by Diane K. Danielson  |  1619 views  |  7 comments  |        Rate this now! 

As a single working mom, technology is normally my savior, not my nemesis. Although it might not seem so when I hear my son start to complain about being a “BlackBerry Orphan” simply because I took a break from playing hockey to check my messages. Hopefully one day he’ll grasp that the only reason I’m able to be out there freezing my butt off, wearing 20-year old figure skates, and playing hockey with him and his pals, is precisely because I can check my messages between face-offs. But, I’ve learned not to argue with 7-year olds wielding hockey sticks.

However, even a technology lover like me can be overwhelmed at times, especially when it comes to online networking. This is one area where I’ve found that too much of a good thing is really “too much.” So, how can you keep things in check when it comes to online networking (and you don’t have second-graders chasing you around with hockey sticks)? Try the following combination of strategy, moderation and focus.

1. Be proactive, not reactive. Instead of responding haphazardly (or not at all) to the invites you might receive from colleagues already in social networks – i.e., LinkedIn, Facebook, Ryze, or WorkItMom, to name a few -- or signing up for a site just for the sake of signing up, take charge and spend some time finding the right network(s) for you.
  • What are your business and personal goals with online networking?
  • What type of people do you want to meet?
  • Where do they hang out on line?
  • Which of your friends is sending you invites and from what groups?
I was a LinkedIn proponent (and still am for certain functionalities), but last year when two respected colleagues who are always on the cutting edge of technology both sent me an invite to Facebook on the same day, I set aside my lunch hour to investigate it further.

2. Be focused, not flighty. With in-person networks, you have to show up regularly to get any benefit out of joining. The same goes for online networks. Test out one or two at a time until you find one you like. Remember, there’s a big difference (even at live events) between minglers and networkers. Minglers flit from place to place, conversation to conversation, but never build relationships. Networkers are master minglers, but they also move the conversation, and the relationship, forward. Block off 30 minutes per week to update your bio, send out a few invitations or test out a new function on the site. I’ve found that I like the “Answers” function on LinkedIn – especially for my questions about marketing, HR, and technology. On Facebook, I was surprised to discover that I enjoyed just scanning my friends profiles (or even Twitter comments) to see what they were up to. Sometimes stuff they were doing would spark new brainstorms for me, or simply just make me laugh.

About the Author

Diane K. Danielson is the CEO of DowntownWomensClub.com, a business network and career site for women and a blogger for www.womensDISH.com

Read more by Diane K. Danielson




7 comments so far...

  • These are great tips. I, too, find that too many networking sites overwhelm me. I don't do a lot of real-life networking, but am trying to do a bit of it here, at least. Thanks, Diane, for the inspiration.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by el-e-e on 14th November 2007

  • Kate - Thanks for the comment. I do think a recruiter or employer would understand that you have a "social" myspace account, as long as you have a different "professional" one. It demonstrates that you know the difference.

    Diane

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Diane K. Danielson on 12th November 2007

  • this is a great article! i have a profile at all of those very places. it is interesting how they are so similar yet so very different. by far, MySpace is the most 'social' - everyone sees everything - which makes me a little uncomfortable. i actually dont use it much because i do have a friend who comes in and out of my life and HER profile/posts are a little on the ... um... crazy side (to be blunt!) even though in person she is just a fun girl with a wacky sense of humor. it does make me think twice about adding friends to my MySpace account though... (she isnt on FaceBook and LinkedIn is strictly professional)

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Kate on 12th November 2007

  • Good stuff here, Diane. I'm in the midst of reading your "Savvy Gal's Guide to Online Networking" right now (I'll have a review for you soon), and I like the way you've distilled it here.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Florinda Pendley Vasquez on 12th November 2007

  • Hi WAH(web)Mommy - It's funny, my "social networking" time is Friday night! My goal is to get more active on Facebook and WorkItMom in Nov/Dec. LinkedIn I can let sit for a bit, because that's more for people to find me and it's not really adding "content". Thanks for writing in! And Get That Picture!

    Diane

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Diane K. Danielson on 12th November 2007

  • Oh, and I forgot to say that I'm glad you commented on the photo. Something I want to add to my own site and various profiles, but I have yet to find a picture that I like enough to share so publicly, lol.

    Maybe I need to lighten up a bit - I'm sure I can find at least one half decent photo. Or have DH take some new ones over the weekend or something. :)

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by WAH(web)Mommy on 12th November 2007

  • Thanks for the great article, Diane!

    I am definitely a Mingler, and need to become a true Networker. I've been on LinkedIn for a while, I'm fairly new to WorkItMom, and I just signed up with MySpace. I have my 'phases' where I'm very active in one or another social networking site... then busy life kicks back in and I disappear for a while, etc.

    I love the idea to set aside half hr a week, for example to update your profile, or network, etc.

    I find that I like coming to WorkItMom on Monday mornings (while my daughter is eating breakfast, lol). It's a nice bit of relaxation to read some posts and questions, and make a few comments, before starting off the work day.

    You've motivated me to become more of a regular social Networker! Thanks!!!

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by WAH(web)Mommy on 12th November 2007

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