The following are 10 facilities of Ning networks that used in concert will help you build a powerful personal brand and effectively market your business:
- Your Ning Profile - Your profile is your mini web page on social and business networks. It ought to portray you in the best possible light as explained in How Important is Making a Good First Impression Online? Therefore, carefully complete your profile info and include a smart looking personal photo. It boggles my mind the number of networkers who barely fill in their network profiles. For an example of a simple complete profile, view mine at the Small Business Network.
- Business Networking - The single best way to network both offline and online is to check people out and ask them to tell you more about themselves. Never spam them! The Skinny on Networking by Jim Randel is a brief and excellent business networking guide.
- Blogs - Using blogs, you publicly express your views, stake claims to keywords and interact with readers via comments. When you blog on Ning networks, readers on-site don’t have far to go to find your posts, and because your content is aggregated by search engines with related content on the site, it’s easier for you and others to rank well on top keywords. To succeed blogging, post original search engine optimized articles that link to off-site and on-site sources. Don’t post snippets and don’t post articles that read like ads.
- Discussions - Discussion forums encourage people to share ideas in response to a simple question or statement. You can use discussions to get conversations going without writing whole articles. Be creative.
- Groups - Used correctly, groups are the most powerful branding and marketing tool on Ning networks. Group owners build communities and engage members through both discussions and newsletters — a bit like Facebook pages and Facebook groups combined. Before starting a Ning group, be ready to recruit off-site colleagues and use blogs and discussions to attract site members. I notice many starting groups and waiting for people to join with limited or no success.
- Events - Offline and online events are mini calls to action that can build and sustain momentum. Ning allows you to post events and members to respond. Share your events both on-site and off-site for optimal results.
- Comments - Your participation through commenting on others’ content and joining in conversations has a strong branding effect. People can get to know you through your comments. You have lots of time to compose your comments. Use that time wisely!
- Embedded Videos - Videos add a valuable dimension to your content on Ning and off Ning, as well. With a little practice you can quickly embed them in your blogs and discussions.
- Uploaded Photos - A picture is worth a thousand words. Upload pictures and label them so that people can appreciate them.
- Status Updates - Status updates are still a half-baked Ning feature, but use them anyway, since you never know who might be reading them.
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