Larry BraunerEven people who don’t go online and don’t understand social networking have heard of MySpace or Facebook, names that might conjure up fears of predators or identity theft.

However, that’s not my point.

My point is that MySpace and Facebook are so much talked about that they have pretty much become household names, and serious business networkers have or ought to have a presence at MySpace, Facebook and Linked In — and at other major social networking sites.

Many of the important online networking sites are listed for your convenience:

There are also industry specific sites. For example if your business is real estate related, consider joining ActiveRain Real Estate Network and Wanna Network, if you don’t already belong.

To find business networking sites specific to any industry, try plugging the industry name and the words “networking sites” into your favorite search engine.

But wait, the story doesn’t end here.

Smaller and newer business networking sites also deserve to be included in your online portfolio. After all, less can be more.

When Diane Hochman Zigs, I Zag

My Private ClassroomDiane Hochman, the founder and director of My Private Classroom for Marketers, often instructs, “Don’t Follow the Flock”. When others are zigging, you zag.

Diane is a Web 2.0 social media rock star. Many people follow her every move. They go where she goes. They do what she does. They zig when she zigs, and they zag when she zags.

People like Diane Hochman and Mike Dillard have their own flocks. Since I don’t want to follow the flock, nor live in somebody’s shadow, when Diane and Mike zig, I zag.

When they’re hanging at Facebook and Twitter, I’m chillin’ at one of the newer smaller sites such as Sta.rtUp.biz, a site that caters to small business entrepreneurs, or Natural Networkers, a social networking site for proponents of attraction marketing.

I might also be list building at Direct Matches or schmoozing at Yuwie, since they are not.

I think you get the general idea. It fits in with my online social networking strategy and my personal branding strategy. It’s common sense. I have plenty of room to maneuver.

You too might be best off charting a different course than your competition or industry leaders.

Choosing Business Networking Sites

There are many possible criteria for choosing business sites. However, at the end of the day it’s largely a matter of trial and error.

Nevertheless, let me share a few of my considerations with you. Perhaps I’ll share more in a future blog post.

Some social networking sites are funded by membership fees, some by advertising, and some by a combination of the two. I mainly prefer advertising supported sites. I’m not typically reaching out to a very elite crowd.

I do admit, I was a paid Executive Member at Direct Matches for three years. I highly valued the package of services they provided, and I appreciated Bill Weber’s personal touch. You can join Direct Matches for free.

I don’t pay to use any social networking sites at the present time. All the networking sites I use are either ad supported or offer free memberships that I find suitable.

Some networking sites make it easier to connect than others. I like to reach out to a large audience and prefer sites that make it easy for me to do that.

I like to be able to browse and add friends or contacts by demographic characteristics or by geographic location. When sites offer that option, it’s great. When they don’t, I look to a site’s groups or clubs to find people in my target market.

I recommend that you explore Ning social networking sites. While they do not support demographic browsing, but they are nevetheless very useful for business networking.

Short Lived Networking Feature

Some new social networking sites let me send mail to all my contacts or to all members of groups to which I belong. I love this capability and use it effectively without abusing or spamming.

I like to let lots of people know about my new blog posts. If I didn’t have a blog, I’d send links to useful information and thereby build my relationship with fellow members.

Unfortunately, as a networking site grows, spammers inevitably move in and ruin it for everybody. It’s impossible to keep a step ahead of them, so all sites eventually limit or eliminate this wonderful feature.

Don’t Let Spammers Ruin Your Day

I don’t like spammers and wish they’d stick with safelists or classified ads, but I don’t let them ruin my day, nor do I let them dissuade me from using any particular social networking site.

If I can cope with tailgaters and drivers who cut me off on the highway, I can surely cope with spammers.

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Larry Brauner

How I Use Social Networking Sites

I wouldn’t start a blog called Online Social Networking if I didn’t like social networking sites.

Let’s look at some of the ways that I use social networking sites to meet my business networking objectives.

Casting a Wide Net

I join a wide range of social networking sites. I know that even if I will not be active at a particular social site, the profile I set up there will add to my online presence. So if I like the site, I’ll become part of the community. If I don’t, there’s no harm. My profile will remain there as long as the site continues to operate.

When you Google me, you’ll find page after page of results that are me. What happens when people Google you?

Joining a bunch of social networking sites should jump start your web presence. It’ll give you some Google juice. Why not join some of my favorite social networking sites featured on my blog’s sidebar? As a plus, in most cases we’ll automatically be connected as “friends”.

Building Large Targeted Lists

When I like a social networking site, I settle in and become part of the community.

A winning strategy on nearly all social networking sites is to build a large targeted list of friends or contacts, generally the larger the better. Thousands are better than hundreds.

For some sites such as MySpace, Facebook and Yuwie there are friend adders, but I don’t like to use them. I prefer the personal touch, and I don’t want to risk losing my profile for suspected spamming. I spend a modest amount of time each day requesting new friends on each of my favorite social networking sites.

There are two ways that I target my requests.

On sites that allow profile browsing by specific demographics such as age, gender, geographic location, marital status, and parental status, I browse to find people to add.

On sites that have groups or clubs I browse the groups that are likely to attract the people I’m looking for.

I tend to accept nearly all add requests from others. I reject blatant spammers, men masquerading as women in order to attract favorable attention, and crazies.

Networking and Attraction Marketing

Social networking sites are meant for online social networking and not for advertising or spamming. They’re a great place to get to know people. You get to know people by asking them questions.

Please visit or revisit my earlier post, Social Networking vs. Advertising, for a full explanation of this absolutely crucial concept.

Social networking sites are also great from attraction marketing. Be the type of person you want to attract, and that person will be attracted to you.

Videos of you presenting useful information or explaining an important idea, not making a sales pitch, can showcase you as the knowledgeable leader you are.

Blogging is a big part of my branding strategy, so when I network online, I invite people to visit my blog, read, comment and register or subscribe. And many do.

I invite people I like on one social networking site to connect with me on another site. I don’t want to lose track of them if the first site closes down or if one of us happens to have his or her profile deleted. And yes, many do… connect that is.

At Direct Matches, I invite people to visit my profile page where I have a subscription form, and people can sign up for my training newsletter. And again, many do.

Every time people go along with my request, they’re opting in another time to our relationship. It’s sort of like dating.

Branding Yourself

Social networking sites, video sites and blogs are great for personal branding. In fact, your whole online presence can serve as a branding mechanism.

Craft your personal branding strategy and develop a web presence that is consistent with your strategy.

Being Consistent and Following Through

Possibly the most important online social networking strategy is to be consistent and follow through, not to expect instant results.

First you need to build your list, and then you need to gain credibility with the people on it.

When I’ve tried to push things, people sensed it. When I’ve been patient, people have often come to me, and what could be better than that?

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Larry BraunerBusiness Week in their June 2, 2008 cover story, Beyond Blogs, confessed that three years earlier when they wrote, Blogs Will Change Your Business, they completely missed the larger Web 2.0 social media trend that was emerging.

Business Networking Sites

While blogs have indeed transformed business, politics and publishing, online social networking at social networking sites such as MySpace, Facebook, and Linked In have impacted an even greater cross-section of businesses and people.

Many businesses have created their own in-house social networking sites to encourage and support staff collaboration.

Social Media Sites

YouTube, a site where regular people post their videos, has challenged the dominance of television in the entertainment and news industries.

Wikipedia, an encyclopedia developed and maintained by users, and wikis in general, have revolutionized the way people work together and share information.

Twitter, a micro-blogging site, lets people and businesses communicate in 140-character chunks called “tweets”.

Read the full article to better understand social media’s impact on marketing, management and collaboration in business today.

Time’s 2006 Person of the Year

One footnote: Time Magazine in their December 2006 cover story, Time’s Person of the Year: You, communicates the full impact and significance of our collective online collaboration called Web 2.0.

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Larry Brauner

Is ASD Real or Just a Scam or Ponzi Scheme?
Reading Down to End of Comments is a MUST !

My May 6 post, The SpiderWeb Marketing System, garnered many readers, especially from search engines.

While I expressed some concerns over the Spider Web program, I never implied that it was a pyramid or scam. My issues with Spider were the hype, the spam and the choice of GDI as a web hosting platform for their blogs. It was the spam over at Direct Matches, one of my favorite social networking sites, that first grabbed my attention.

A recent unexpected development however has dramatically hurt the growth of the Spider Web just as it was starting to gain steam. The SpiderWeb Marketing System is facing some serious competition from a program that may be little more than the latest money scheme and perhaps the next 12 Daily Pro.

Andy Bowdoin Launches ASD at ASDCashGenerator.com

The get-rich-quick crowd has welcomed the new ASD Ad Surf Daily Cash Generator with open arms. With oil prices moving up and real estate prices moving down who wouldn’t want to make a quick buck?

If you could spend a few hours a week viewing ads and make a load of money without having to recruit a single person, wouldn’t you at least want to check it out? I know I would.

So yours truly put on his business analyst hat, transfered $30 to his Alert Pay account, and gave that money over to ASD so that he could report back to you first hand with the inside story.

Here’s the story. You decide for yourself whether ASD is the real deal, another scam or something in-between.

The ASD Business Proposition

ASD purports to sell website traffic and to rebate a percentage of the sale price to qualified members. The rebate percentage is currently set at 125%, and amount tied in to new sales volume and subject change in the future. To qualify, members log on and surf 24 sites of other members daily for 125 days.

My Evaluation Criteria

My research and analysis of ASD Ad Surf Daily Cash Generator focused on answering some important questions.

ASD claims to be in the business of selling website traffic. Is their advertising a reasonable value at the price asked, or would it sell only to people hoping to make money from the ASD rebate scheme?

ASD shares revenue from new business by paying rebates. Can ASD sustain itself without continually recruiting new members? Can rebates adequately compensate members for the use of their funds, their time and for the associated risks?

Traffic Exchange Visits

Website visits provided by traffic exchange schemes are very much untargeted and incentivized. Moreover, such visitors are typically multi-tasking while plodding their way through the required website rotation.

I want to be generous rather than conservative in my assessment. If you could make a perfect match between the ASD viewing membership and your target websites, each visit to your sites might be worth as much as a nickel. While it’s likely to be less, let’s tentatively assess the value of a page visit as $0.05.

ASD charges $1.00 per page visit. There is a large 20-to-one discrepancy between price and value. If you can find me somebody who’s genuinely prepared to spend a dollar for one traffic exchange site visit, put us in touch. I have a bridge I’d like to show him.

Seriously, nobody in his right mind would pay more than pennies for a traffic exchange visitor.

I have to conclude that members are paying ASD for the privellege of making money from rebates or recruiting — and not for website visits. It appears that ASD is in the money business and not in the advertsing business.

If government authorities reach a similar conclusion, they could rule that ASD handles investments and is threrfore subject to the purview of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commision (SEC). Such a ruling would not be favorable in the least for ASD nor for ASD’s membership.

Sustainability

In a video Andy Bowdoin explains that, unlike 12 Daily Pro, ASD doesn’t make payments to members at a fixed rate, and that it may not continue to make payments in the future. I appreciate that Andy was up front in raising the possibility that ASD as we know it today may not be sustainable long-term.

Andy’s disclaimer may allow ASD to comply with anti-pyramid statutes today and to bow out in the future if new sales ever decline sharply.

ROI Return on Investment

Whether money paid to ASD legally constitutes an investment or not, I’m not competent to decide.

However, to qualify for rebates members need to surf through a rotation of 24 sites each day. Given the slow speed of ASD’s site and frequent hiccups, it takes about three hours per week to run their Cash Generator.

How much is three hours of your time weekly worth to you? $50? $100? More?

If you’re buying rebates, not advertising, you need to figure the value of your time. The amount of rebates you will earn relative to the value of the time you spend determines whether or not ASD is profitable for you.

Your profit threshold will probably not be the same as mine. It might be higher, or it might be lower.

Just as an example, let’s suppose that you would like to earn $35 per hour, and any benefit you get from your advertising you’ll accept, and consider it gravy.

Math-phobics may skip this part if absolutely necessary.

You consider the possibility of purchasing 500 units for $500. Each day you receive $5 which is one percent of the principal.

$4 of the $5 is recovery of principal, not profit. 125 days times $4 equals your original $500.

$1 of the $5 is your daily profit, so each week your earn $7.

You want to earn $105 or three-hours times $35. You’ll need to invest 15 times as much or $7,500.

Invest $7,500 and do the required surfing. You’ll earn $105 profit per week.

Invest less, you’ll earn less.

If you don’t have much money, you won’t make much. If you do, you probably have better things to do with it and prefer not to devote a month per year of productive time to this type of risky project.

Risk Management

Yes, there’s definitely a considerable risk factor. I’m not going to call Ad Surf Daily Cash Generator a scam, but I’m telling you… It is risky.

You might not recover your $7,500 or earn the 25% bonus of $1,875.

You have to account for risk and plan for it — if you can. You can try Lloyd’s of London if you need help.

Sure everybody’s making money now. Some are making tons of money, but will ASD last indefinitely?

Perhaps not.

Every gambler who makes money at Las Vegas faces the same dilemma: cash out or let it ride.

There were many people who made big money at 12 Daily Pro and many other high yield income programs (HYIP’s) that circled the globe a couple of years ago.

And there were people who lost. Some of them lost a lot.

A Few Quirks

Like most other growing sites ASDCashGenerator.com can be very slow. They’re upgrading their servers, but their upgrades will soon need upgrades. You’ll have to be patient.

It can take days for your payment to show up in their system. Perhaps some things are done manually. Submit a support ticket and be patient.

I created a unique e-mail address just for ASD and received an unsolicited business offer from a woman oversees sent to that address a couple of days after registering. I wouldn’t rule out the possibility that my sponsor exposed my address when sending a group e-mail.

I requested to buy 30 units of advertising but received only 28. I guess they took $2 as a processing fee.

A Major Fallacy

I hear people explaining that they already made their money back, and that they’re playing with profit as if the profit isn’t their own money.

You can take your profit and do something for yourself or your family. It definitely is your money just as much as your original principal was. If you throw it away, you’re throwing away your money, not ASD’s or anybody else’s.

It Boils Down to Using Common Sense

You don’t have to be a top business analyst to figure these kinds of things out.

My Private ClassroomIf you get down to the basics and avoid the hype, you can make excellent business decisions. As my mentor Diane Hochman, founder of My Private Classroom, says, “Use your common sense.”

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Larry Brauner

I cannot be everything to everybody.

I know I can’t.

I realized that a long time ago. I’ve learned to choose who I want to be to the people who matter most to me.

Business Analysis Example

I’m a business analyst. There are lots of business analysts in the world, but how many of them specialize in marketing and customer analysis like I do? Very few indeed.

And how many rely as heavily on intuition and instinct as I do? Even fewer.

Looking for somebody to do your P&L analyses? Not me. Go talk to a finance type. There are tons of them with MBA degrees waiting to hear from you.

Want to assess a takeover target? Again, not me. Go find somebody who’s into merger and acquisitions to help.

Need to track your marketing or determine how much your customers are worth? Now that is me. Give me a call, and I’ll talk your head off for hours about customer acquisition and customer retention, because that’s definitely my thing.

Network Marketing Example

I admit it. I’m also a network marketer.

I have lots of expertise in online social networking at social networking sites, blog marketing and search engine optimization. I was networking online way before it was cool, and I’m continuously sharpening my blogging and SEO skills.

Do I know the three foot rule? Of course I do, but so does everybody else in the network marketing business.

Can I make a list of family, friends and acquaintances? You bet I can — I’ve done it more than once — but is there one successful networker who can’t?

On the other hand, how many network marketers are Internet savvy? How many of them prospect and network online and enjoy it as I do?

Breaking Away from the Pack

I like to learn from teachers such as Diane Hochman and Mike Dillard, because they too have broken away from the pack. As Diane often says, “When people are zigging, you have to zag.” She’s a lady I want to get to know much better. That’s a big reason why I joined My Private Classroom.

By the way, if you would like to develop strong social networking, social marketing and personal branding skills, read My Private Classroom Opens to Public.

Blogging Example

A reader recently complained that my articles were neither timely nor did they provide information she couldn’t have found elsewhere online.

I basically told her that intelligent and thought-provoking were more important to me than timely. Here too I’ve chosen a focus that works for me.

My Personal Brand Management Approach

The point of this post is that I’ve narrowed my focus, so that I could escape the crowds and stand out more readily. I’ve defined my market, so that I can dominate it.

I prefer to be a leader in my carefully selected fields rather than an also-ran in larger more broadly defined competitive categories.

Avis might have been #2 in the car rental industry, but when they said, “we try harder”, they re-positioned themselves as #1 in car rental customer service.

Redefine Your Market

Do you sell mortgages? Travel? Nutritional products?

Here’s some food for thought. How can you position yourself so that people will see you and think of you as a leader in your market and remember you when they are ready to buy?

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