How to Be a Social Networking Success


If your business doesn’t yet have a presence in some sort of social network, you’re behind the curve. Although it can seem overwhelming, you’ll never learn how until you simple get started. It’s true you can make a lot of mistakes when using social networking sites, but if you follow a few simple rules of social networking etiquette you’ll be fine.

Be Personal

Using social networks only to send bulletins and promote your business is bad form. The first thing you want to do is create an engaging profile. It’s often the first thing people notice. Taking the time set up a simple bio page is well worth the effort. If you’re over thirty it may be difficult to grasp the personal nature of online networks.

When I went through on-campus recruiting for accounting firms in 1997 it was all about the navy suit and the ability to make vanilla small talk. We were taught to blend. Not anymore. Today’s networking is all about showing your true self. You also want to have a nice picture to add to your perceived professionalism and trustworthiness. A stock avatar says you have something to hide! The bottom line is that people want to do business with someone they feel like they know.

Even if the profile is for the business, not you the person, make sure it has a personality and something to share – not just something to sell!

Be Humble

Of course you’re participating in social networking to promote your business. We know that, so you don’t have to say it. Make sure you share things other than how wonderful your business is, and whatever you do never place ads in the comments of friends’ accounts. Keep your promotion and banners on your own profile. Social networking is all about connecting and being helpful.

Remember – in social networking you don’t control the conversation.

Be Consistent

The thought of keeping even one social networking site updated can be overwhelming if you let it. Multiply that by multiple sites and it can get out of control quickly. It’s best to start with one site and decide up front how often you will update your status, post information, and check in with your network. In my opinion regularity is more important that how much or how often you contribute. You may log on once a week or once a day. As long as you’re consistent you’re building up credibility.

When you share you may brighten or enlighten, and that’s what makes friends. Once you do that, you just may find your business growing as well.

Image Credit: luclegay, Flickr

  • Social networking online is a tough, focused job that a lot of people will have difficulty at first. It’s almost never a first shot deal. It takes time to build a reputation and rapport with people in your field.

    Great piece.

  • Nice article. I especially agree with the third point. Pick ONE OR TWO social network sites and keep on top of them, instead of signing up with every one and never updating any of them.

    I would also recommend drawing a hard line between “professional/business” and “personal/fun” social networking. Both activities have different goals and involve different ways of communicating.

    I use LinkedIn for my business networking and Facebook for my social stuff. You can always invite people to join you on another site, and it shows you respect the intent that each site was designed for.

  • Great post! I work for a recruiting firm in Boston, Hollister ( and we have a presence on quite a few social networking sites (Facebook, Twitter, etc…). I think your tips are really great, and I will definitely be keeping them in mind for the future. Thanks for sharing them!

  • Thanks for the kind words. I like your point, Clarence. Drawing a delineation line sure simplifies things! Though sometimes that’s a tough call to make. I pretty much follow your formula, although I’m attempting to Tweet too! LinkedIn, which I didn’t really ‘get’ at first is getting more and more interactive every day. We’ll see…

  • Lela,
    Great post. You should have no problem keeping your sites neat and clean. Something that has worked for me on my social sites whether for business or pleasure has been the power of connecting on your “networkee’s” level.

    I’ll clarify what I mean… on our sites such as Facebook, you have the option to search by interests. If you are looking to proactively network (depending on your goal) a great way to do this is to connect to people on their terms by dropping a message or post about one of their listed interest. Doing so automatically creates a bond over the internet because:
    1. Most people dont take the time to drop a comment about someone else’s interest without expecting something in return right away so you will instantly stand out.
    2. You just triggered something that that person views as valuable. They will have no problem responding to you.

    This helps with more high profile networkees such as popular bloggers or other high profile online entities. This approach to networking works exceptionally well when looking for advice.

    Remember for online networking you must:
    1. Target their interests during the first conversational exchange.
    2. Stay focused on their interests the next one or two times you exchange.
    3. Begin unveiling your interests whether for business, pleasure, or advice.

    Hope this helps.

    John Genovese
    CEO Networking Note Cards