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?