What Is The Benefit of Social Networking?

Over the past few months, I have fallen head first into the ocean of social networking services. To most people, web 2.0 is synonymous with social networking, meaning sharing photos, blog posts, articles, and even friends with each other. As much as web 2.0 tries to simplify our lives, it can seem impossible to maintain all of these networks and use them to our professional advantage.

For me, even before I started blogging, I was a Digg user. Several months after that, I joined Facebook, then Pownce got dropped in, Flickr popped up after Blog World, most recently, Twitter, and now I am using Utterz and TwitPic for mobile photo sharing through Twitter.

Social Networking = Personal Brand Building

Everyone who chooses to be a part of a social network is making the decision to create a “personal brand” for themselves.

By “brand,” I mean the persona one chooses to represent him/herself online or on any given network. These are the things that people remember when they think of you, and could be things such as your interests, who you are associated with, the topics you blog about, and your professional connections. These are all things we can easily define and input into these social networks.

The days of anonymous marketing and communication are dead. These days, everyone wants to know the people behind the companies they work with. The more that one participates in social networking, the more opportunities there are to start conversations which may have a professional impact on our lives. Not to mention, if someone does business online, a solid reputation is a necessity. Luckily, reputation building can now be done entirely online, giving more people than ever the opportunity to start and run a web-based business.

What is the benefit of social networking?

There are so many social networking sharing services these days that it leaves most people wondering what the point to them all is, and how these services can have any real benefit to our lives. Is it just a constant stream of useless data or are there worthy uses for social networking? When VC’s give millions of dollars to social networks for pets, some screws have to be loose, right?

Of course, it’s not about the dogs and it’s not about having the most friends – it’s about building relationships and becoming more well known within a niche. The purpose of social networking is to start and participate in online conversations, thus building personal brand and online reputation.


Going to the gym and doing a few reps will not make you a body builder. The same is true for online networking – by adding a few friends and occasionally tweeting (or is it twittering) that is not going to build a reputation. However, the more that someone participates in online networking and brand building via social networking, the more professional opportunities that arise from being more well-known. I can say that from personal experience. Of course, this is especially true for people that do business online.

How has social networking helped your personal brand or business online?

45 thoughts on “What Is The Benefit of Social Networking?”

  1. Hi Nate,

    Having read your post in Google Reader, I was stopping by to agree, when I again saw your new blog design. It’s such an improvement I got sidetracked off my original comment thoughts. 😉

  2. I agree totally. It doesn’t just pertain to social networking, but with ever aspect of business itself; cold calling and emailing proposals to potential clients will keep the steady flow of jobs coming in, writing articles on a consistent basis brings in more regular readers, ect.

    This post reminds me I need to load my twirl up and start tweeting 🙂

  3. @David – Thanks for the blog design comments. 🙂 It does feel nice to have a fresh look for my blog. When do you plan to redesign your blog?

    @Mike – You are right – social networking does extend further than just the online communities. Ultimately, any social interaction we choose to participate in is a social networking opportunity. How will we choose to leverage the opportunities which are presented to us via social networking? That is the question which can make or break most people’s professional careers.

  4. What about the blogs that are not really for business purposes? Such as those, more to express one’s views primarily, and if any revenue comes, so be it types. Social networking takes away a lot of valuable time.

  5. Hey Nate, I believe in Social networking but not much more trust on it, as in online deal one need to be very careful while dealing with online business. I think blogging is the best way, make friends through it, owner of blog become very famous and than people may trust on him, though he is from overseas and get start the business.

  6. @Music Recording – you are right that social networking can take up a lot of valuable time and may not be worth it for people who not running an online business. It all depends on how well someone wants to become known online – for many people that is just not a priority, so I can understand their frustration with the futility of social networking.

  7. Yes i think social networking is an extremely effective tool for a business today and people can afford to ignore it at their own peril. The success of viral marketing campaigns is proof of this.

  8. Hi Nate, I did not see your design before this, but this sites structure, navigation and design rocks. I find social networking very time consuming but its definitely something a business needs to do. New in-house PR social net workers needed. Its amazing how new careers are born with the new technologies. Great post.

  9. Social networking definitely has a place in running an online business, but I still haven’t come to grips with managing it in a timely manner. What I mean to say, is it seems full of potential, but it seems to consume so much of my time when I do a little of it. There’s just too many distractions (hello FaceBook), designed to keep you busy for hours at a time. The trick I think is to be very disciplined with it. You need to use it for specific tasks, and then move on the something else. I’m still working on that discipline part.

  10. I agree with “Top Rated”. I dont know how people manage to do all this networking and friend-building. I am glad when i can manage my business and still spend some time with my family. That already covers 150% of my day and leaves important things undone. Where do o get the time to build my network?

  11. Thank you for responding to my comments. I believe that anything to do with the blog world must be compared to the non blog real world and what happens in the latter should be used to draw lessons from. In the real world, it is said that more business gets done on golf courses than in conference rooms. Therefore, the equivalent of the golf links being a social network, if one is capable of being blatant about it, one can indeed use it to generate business in the main blog.

  12. I find social networking very time consuming but its definitely something a business needs to do. New in-house PR social net workers needed. Its amazing how new careers are born with the new technologies. Great post.

  13. I like this post.
    I am on the fence about the social networking worth. It has many personal benefits, and from what I’ve read from you post, seems like there could be a lot of business ventures as well.
    I’m still ‘green behind the ears’ with my new blog, not sure if social networking is for me.
    Thanks for giving me food for thought.
    Great blog by the way!

  14. Blogging does seem to be a better ROI then the whole social networking thing. Unless maybe there’s a tipping point somewhere for the A-listers that make it worthwhile. I just haven’t gotten there yet.

  15. Yes I agree that social networking is really important to build reputation in online business. Just like when you build communication with colleagues in other kind of business.

  16. I had a funny meeting last month.
    It was called “speed meeting”. Businesspeople meeting like at a “speed dating” with 1 minute time for each person to get the message through. Then changing of business-cards and of partners.
    Very funny.

  17. I just started testing out a new theory. Many of these sites (like Digg) allow you to add several links back to your site from your profile, using your own anchor text. I have a test account with several outbound links and am doing nothing but commenting on High PR threads. We’ll see how/if it works.

  18. For those who are interested, a classic success story of personal branding through all possible media including the social networks is that of Tyra Banks. Just google her and see what happens!

  19. I’ve always been interested in how the hiring process for social networking works. Do you judge them by whether they’ve made something popular on Digg, gotten hundreds of thumbs-up on StumbleUpon, gathered followers on Twitter…?

  20. I’ve used online social networks to continue to enhance our firm’s brand. I’ve even starting finding new clients through online business social networking sites (like LinkedIn).

    This is unusual for a CPA firm, and we are still testing it’s viability. We may be rolling out other “virtual digital” offices through out the country and staff them with work-at-home-moms (with no actual brick and mortar office locations). This will happen over the next 5 to 10 years, and it’s still to be seen if its a viable business model.

    We’ll see.

    Thanks, Jason M. Blumer

  21. Social networking is really able to assist in increasing the traffic to one’s website and blog. It is the very tool with the help of which one can make one’s reputation among those who are doing online business.

  22. The only reason i use social bookmarking is some nice backlinks. Though on one of my site i got amazing traffic from some social bookmarking. And i didn’t for other sites =/ I’m gonna keep experimenting though

  23. I agree with some of what you say, but I’m always careful about absolutes. Like your statement, “The days of anonymous marketing and communication are dead.” Not so fast. Traditional marketing methods, such as TV, radio, direct marketing, etc. are still in heavy use and are effective. Even the Web didn’t replace existing communication tools. Take the latest round of Apple ads — they’re doing a great job of reminding people what is great about a Mac. I consider social media just another element of the marketing mix. And what’s so important about identifying the communicator behind the product if you’re just selling toothpaste?

  24. I wish there was a way to maintain multiple personas on the major social networking sites. I want one for friends, and one for business contacts in each of my business verticals so I can make sure that my interactions/posts are relevant. But almost all of the major sites limit you to only one account. Shame.

  25. We’ve actually picked up some pretty nice work from social networking because people are often finding it easier to just float work to their networks.

  26. @Top Rated I have been wondering about the amount of time needed to devote to social marketing, how much to blogging, etc. Can some of that be outsourced? With my busy schedule I don’t know if I can devote the needed amount of time for it to be the most productive.

  27. Social networks are an amazing addition to an already over-stuffed Internet with way too many sites that clog the tubes. What these social sites bring to the community is engagement on a number of levels, creativity and the ability to share and communicate with like-minded individuals.

  28. This is bullshit! Now you know, social networking helps facebook to know what exactly interests you and then sell you that stuff. People shining the seats while building their social networks are adding weight. Instead of finding out how this nonsense helps (which it doenst) get off your ass and walk! (the good old fashioned walk) that cleans up your arteries.

  29. make couple of account by having 2 email id’s…
    shame cant think this much
    one for work n other for friends

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