Larry BraunerNing seems to be gaining popularity since restructuring in 2010, and since smoothing some of its rough edges.

Many Ning social networking sites are easier to navigate and operate than those of Facebook or LinkedIn. However, while mastering Ning’s features isn’t difficult, using Ning to network effectively can be.

I’ve been developing my network on Ning, writing about Ning and watching Ning go through changes for several years. Small Business Network is the Ning site I created and run.

Ning Social NetworksHere are 16 tips to help you better understand Ning social networking sites and to use Ning sites to help build your network:

  1. There are Ning social and business networks that cater to nearly every niche. Search the Ning home page and Google to find Ning networks that match your interests.
  2. Join all relevant Ning networks and create a profile on each. Be careful to bookmark the Ning sites you join, so that you can easily find your way back to them.
  3. Don’t worry about joining too many Ning sites. You won’t be active on all of them. All these sites will, however, contribute to your web presence.
  4. In 10 Tips for LinkedIn Social Networking, I stated that “your LinkedIn profile is your resume. Put at least as much effort into creating and perfecting your profile as you would your resume.” I also suggest that you also invest substantial effort to create and perfect your Ning profile.
  5. Save your Ning profile is a text file on your computer desktop, so that you don’t have to recreate it from scratch each time you join a Ning site. You’ll just have to customize it a bit.
  6. Unlike Facebook and LinkedIn, Ning is an open networking platform. You’re free to reach out to any member with whom you wish to connect, even if you don’t know him or her. However, make sure that your approach is transparent and congenial.
  7. Ning groups tend to have a narrower focus than the overall site, and browsing group membership is a good way to locate the people you most want to meet. Creating your own Ning group is a great idea for networking and branding yourself, but follow-through is essential.
  8. Before inviting a member to connect, greet them and ask a friendly question in a comment on their profile wall to determine if they’re active. Most members of Ning sites are inactive, so don’t waste one of you limited invitations on them. Asking questions also helps establish relationships, and profile commenting also helps create internal links back to your profile, improving your profile’s standing with search engines.
  9. If you run out of invitations, delete pending invitations. Start with the oldest first, and only delete as many as needed at that moment.
  10. Accept invitations from others. Don’t be too fussy. You can’t have too many friends on Ning. I don’t know of any upper limit. Correct me if you know otherwise.
  11. The friends you make on one Ning site will be friends on all the Ning sites you have in common. You often join a Ning site and discover that you already have friends there.
  12. You can broadcast messages to up to 200 Ning friends at one time, but I myself very rarely use this feature. I like to write a blog post or start a discussion and then  share it with all my friends on a site. I personalize the notification with a few additional words using the optional message area. Blog posts and discussions also link internally back to your profile and help with search engines.
  13. Before sharing content with your Ning friends, ask yourself whether the content is truly valuable or whether it just another form of spam. Avoid spamming or face undesirable consequences. Spamming — or even pasting the exact same comment on many members’ profiles — can get you banned from all Ning sites.
  14. Invite your friends to connect with you on other social networking sites, such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Your friendship will survive even if the Ning site disappears or one of you become inactive on the site.
  15. One you’ve formed a relationship with another Ning member, use private messages rather than profile comments to communicate with each other, unless of course, you want your conversation to be displayed to the public.
  16. Invite outside contacts to join your favorite Ning sites, but don’t use Ning invites. Most Ning invites are ignored or end up in your friends’ spam folders. Instead, share good content from Ning on Facebook and other social sites. When people come to view the content, they’ll be presented with the option of joining.

Please join me on my Ning site, Small Business Network.

What Ning networks have you created or do you belong to? What Ning social networking tips can you share with us?

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14 Responses to “16 Tips for Ning Social Networking”

  1. Jerry on January 31st, 2011 1:46 am

    Great post Larry.. #12 is a great tip and one that I have used myself but forgotten about. lol

    Question for you Larry..

    Is that “if you found this page useful” script, right above the comment section available as a Wordpress Plugin?? I love that.

    Thanks a lot
    Jerry

  2. Stephen G. Barr, Publisher on January 31st, 2011 2:02 am

    All excellent tips Larry! #6 is an important one for me!

  3. Larry Brauner on January 31st, 2011 5:08 pm

    Thank you Jerry and Stephen.

    @Jerry I’ve created a template for myself that I paste into the HTML before I start writing. It includes my picture and everything below the post.

  4. Sandy on January 31st, 2011 5:42 pm

    As always, excellent social networking advice. Have you seen if Google adds more juice to a backlink from a ning network that is related your the content of the site?

  5. Larry Brauner on January 31st, 2011 6:51 pm

    Don’t know how to gauge that, Sandy.

  6. Debby Bruck on January 31st, 2011 7:43 pm

    A couple of comments on this blog. As you know I run a NING network. It takes blood, sweat and tears to make it run smoothly, cater to the needs of the community, answer all questions, update the network, and learning the latest from NING. That said, think twice about just up and starting your own network.

    If you do start a NING network you will want a support staff to help manage and run it properly, including accepting new members. You will also want to establish rules and guidelines for people to follow. New members may need a tutorial section. Be prepared.

    Regarding joining NING networks. Those who create a community out of the goodness of their hearts to share ideas with others means they hope there will be active participation. Thus, it is best to dedicate some time to the community and not just use it for your personal benefit of improving your SEO. Give back to the community.

    Regarding having to bookmark the site you join, you will be able to see where you belong by visiting NING.com, and your memberships will be listed.

    Tailor-made profiles is a cool idea.

    Many NING sites that I have joined are closed to public view. However, when a site it open, having a great profile can benefit you. Make sure it is well written because this will follow you everywhere. Be just as careful in what you write, as if this is your permanent trail. You have probably learned this by now with Facebook, too.

    I could probably write a book about NING, but I don’t have time, since I’m managing my website. Thanks for getting the ball rolling, Larry. You are AWESOME!

    Debby

  7. John on February 1st, 2011 8:49 am

    Hey Larry,

    I have heard of Ning countless times, but I haven’t really taken the time to give it a try. I can tell from the advice you’ve given here that you really have some experience using Ning.

    Thanks for the tips, especially about not making my conversation display to the public by using private messages instead of profile comments to communicate with another Ning member. I haven’t created any Ning networks yet, but I plan on doing so now.

  8. Larry Brauner on February 1st, 2011 10:01 am

    @Debby Thank you for your input. I have one important comment. Ning used to show you the sites to which you belong, but that is no longer the case. They only show the ones you’ve created. Therefore, it’s good to bookmark the sites you join.

    @John As Debby pointed out, it takes a lot to start and run a site. Better to get going by joining other people’s sites.

  9. Offgrid on February 1st, 2011 10:14 pm

    Ning is great - Super easy to set up Forums and very interactive. You have an Awesome Blog here… You might also be interested in trying Intellilinks. I make about $50 per month so far - They pay me to post simple “Content-related” text links to my blog.

  10. brand new world on February 4th, 2011 9:32 pm

    I love these tips! This is just perfect because I just saw a blog post last night that using Ning is a good way to increase traffic to blogs but the post didn’t elaborate on how to do it. Honestly, I don’t remember even checking out the site. I will now armed with these tips.

  11. srvaliente - visitar madrid on February 15th, 2011 7:28 pm

    Ning is a recommended tool to increase our visitors. The article is perfect. I like these tip, and the comments of the other participants.
    Thanks

    Srvaliente

  12. Diane on February 21st, 2011 4:44 pm

    Hi Larry, it has been a while since I last talked to you and hope that you are well.

    As always you have put in a lot of thought to what you are talking about and with the comments made by the others, your conversation about Ning and how to social network using Ning gives food for thought.

    Concerning point 15 “Once you’ve formed a relationship with another Ning member, use private messages rather than profile comments to communicate with each other, unless of course, you want your conversation to be displayed to the public.” -

    If I might be so bold as to add a qualifier to this point?

    Many people for some odd reason do not understand the usage of the private messaging system on Ning and elsewhere for that matter.

    So I would add:

    Private messages on Ning are a terrific way to talk to people, to share ideas, thoughts and can create a deeper relationship, which is in essence what social + networking is all about. Private messages are NOT to be used for:

    1. A dating service “oh baby, oh baby Oh baby”

    2. To spam others - ” I have this great home business for you or ” Come and get your leads” or or or……

    and

    3. To harass or otherwise annoy people.

    These three illustrations happen a lot more than people want to admit and that is a fact!

    Thank you as always for letting me and others air our views. A good discussion as always.

  13. Larry Brauner on February 21st, 2011 5:11 pm

    Thank you for your excellent comments, Diane.

    I’ve experienced your #2 and #3, but unfortunately as a man, I’ve never experienced your #1. ;-)

  14. "Backing Up" Our Facebook Relationships | Online Social Networking on August 21st, 2011 9:53 pm

    […] might instead choose a Ning social network or a Ning group within a particular Ning social network, etc. You get the […]

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