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    Social Media and Relationships: A Guide to Professional Networking

    Posted by Bill Faeth

    Social Media Networking Rules

    Maintaining a presence on major social media networks is just as essential for modern professionals as it is for their businesses. Social media offers the opportunity to dramatically expand your professional network and initiate real relation ships. Even though networking has changed dramatically, remember you are still representing your business. Networking on social media really isn't that different from old-style networking, so play by the modern networking rules. 

    1. Every Introduction Counts

    Every professional knows that first impressions are critical. When meeting people at a professional events, you've likely perfected the art of briefly explaining your business strengths quickly and in a memorable fashion. Modern networking rules mean that your social media profile will often be someone's first impression, so take care to optimize your profile for the biggest possible impact. Make your biography comprehensive and interesting and include links to your company website if people want to learn more. Modern networking rules haven't really changed the best practices for professional introductions, they've simply changed the forum. 

    2. Segment Your Social Sharing

    Keep personal sharing to a minimum to avoid offending or annoying people at the edges of your network. Many professionals choose to designate certain social media networks as a place for connecting exclusively with real-life friends and family and sharing family photos. You may decide to use Twitter for professional networking and Facebook for maintaining personal connections. Selective, strategic sharing is a key component of modern networking rules.

    3. Put the Work in Network

    The word "networking" involves the word "work" for a reason, and sometimes you may have to take the first step to benefit from professional connections. Offer to write a guest post for a business peer's blog, or let an acquaintance know that you referred them some business. Networking has never been easy, and taking connections from social media into the real-life realm can be even more difficult. Take the first step and offer some benefit to your connections to reap the rewards of following the modern networking rules. 

    4. Keep Tabs on Acquaintances

    Categorize your social media acquaintances by the value they could offer to you professionally. You should know if each Twitter follower or Facebook friend could become a lead, mentor or golf buddy. Keep the information private and remember that Twitter lists are public, while Google Circles are secret. Knowing enough about social media network to be discreet is a key component of modern networking rules. 

    5. Take it Offline

    Let members of your social media network know that you're serious about making connections that matter by asking them to join you for coffee or lunch sometime. Even though social media has dramatically expanded the rate at which people can make acquaintances, it can be difficult to do business through Twitter direct messages. Reap the benefits of real relationships by asking people in your area to spend some time with you. Always be smart about meeting strangers in real life by using public areas as a meeting place. Modern networking rules require people to consider safety when taking relationships offline. 

    6. Be Grateful

    Show your Twitter Followers, Facebook Friends and connections on Google+ that you are serious about expanding your professional network by responding to attempts at engagement. If someone offers feedback or tweets a useful link, thank them for their input. Maintaining a grateful, engaged presence on social media can establish you as a person who is serious about playing by the modern networking rules to share the benefits of professional connections. 

    When it comes to modern networking rules, you don't need to reinvent the stone. Being professional, polite, grateful and willing to work on connections has always counted big in networking. Establish your professional presence on social media by putting the work into networking. 

    Image Credit: freedigitalphotos.net/suphakit73

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    Topics: Social Media