Larry BraunerI recently revealed my top 10 Tips for LinkedIn Social Networking and 16 Tips for Ning Social Networking.

I’ve also written Top 16 Reasons I Like Facebook More Than Twitter and 10 Simple Ideas for Setting Up a New Twitter Business Account.

However, let’s not kid ourselves. You and I both know that there’s much more to business networking than engaging on business networking sites. Effective business networking calls for a wide range of skills and resources.

Business Networking Strategies

Business NetworkingI asked just last week, How Much Real Networking on Social Networking Sites?

Frankly, I believe that there’s too little real business networking either online or off.

For this reason, I present you with a long — although far from complete — list of business networking strategies, hoping that you’ll find an idea or two that you can implement to your advantage.

Here are 22 business networking strategies:

  1. Always Be Networking - Every person you meet has the potential to introduce you to others in his or her network. Try to meet people every day.
  2. Networking is not Prospecting - Don’t treat all people as prospects. Your job is to develop some degree of relationship with each person you meet. This aspect of networking is explained in depth in Tommy Spaulding’s It’s Not Just Who You Know, which characterizes five levels of relating and explains the hows and whys of each.
  3. Network with Networkers - Business networking enables you to meet people whom you don’t already know. The networking concept is very well explained in Jim Randel’s The Skinny on Networking. Many of the people you’ll meet won’t have the inclination to share their networks with you. Don’t sweat it. Simply move on.
  4. Cast a Wide Net - Try not to prejudge people. All people have merit, and you never know who’ll provide you with a valuable referral. Targeting is a useful marketing concept, but in business and social networking, it’s possible to carry the targeting concept too far.
  5. Determine What You Want - If you don’t know what you want, how will you be able to tell others what you want? Not only that, you’ll be like a Sunday driver going from here to there without an intended destination. Become clear about where you want to go but be prepared to adjust your business networking course as you go along.
  6. Know Whom You Want to Meet - You need to know whom you want to meet, so that the members of your business or social network can help you meet such people.
  7. Fish Where the Fish Are - Join business networking sites and attend business networking events where you can connect with potential prospects and plenty of serious networkers.
  8. Focus on Giving, not Taking - I recommend that you read Bob Burg and John David Mann’s The Go-Giver. The importance of giving and receiving, not taking, extends far beyond business networking. You can become a powerful resource for your network! This blog is one of my ways of giving and being a resource.
  9. Be a Perfectionist - With key contacts, you can’t afford to be even a little sloppy. Polish your personal appearance, refine your business networking profiles and craft your communications, so that you’ll always make a great impression. We can’t be perfect, but we must at least do our very best.
  10. Strive for Consistency - Don’t rely on short intermittent bursts of activity in business networking or in other areas of your life. It’s hard to cram for tests, but it’s even harder to cram for relationships.
  11. Diversify - Don’t put all your business networking eggs in too few baskets. Be on the lookout for new and creative ways to meet people.
  12. Go the Extra Distance - When you think you’ve done all you can, see if you can do a bit more.
  13. Use Your Time Effectively - You can’t hope do everything, so employ the 80/20 rule and prioritize your business networking initiatives.
  14. Stay Organized - Keep a record of your business contacts’ names and personal information, as well as a log of your interactions with them. Find an approach that’s feasible for you.
  15. Pick Up the Phone - Get more personal. Use the phone, Skype and face-to-face meetings to make a close connection with your contacts and business networking partners.
  16. Build Your Network Online and Off - Don’t network exclusively either online or offline. Read Ivan Misner, David Alexander and Brian Hillard’s Networking Like a Pro. Besides being a master networker, Ivan Misner is Founder and Chairman at BNI, a business networking organization that spans the globe. It’s critical to recognize the need for business networking both online and off.
  17. Do not Abuse or Spam a Your Contacts - Aggressive behavior online or off will kill your chances of building a network and earn you a bad reputation.
  18. Don’t Waste Time with Overly Skeptical People - Preach only to the choir. If someone doesn’t get it, don’t try make him or her get it. Talk to somebody else.
  19. Learn from the Experts - There are many excellent networking books, such as the ones I mention here. Books, seminars and the people we meet have much to teach us about business networking, our vocational fields — and life.
  20. Build Your Network before You Need It - Harvey Mackay’s Dig Your Well Before You’re Thirsty is an oldie but a goodie. It takes a long time to grow a business or social network. If you wait until you need a business network before you start building it, you’ll regret your decision to delay.
  21. Be Authentic - Real people want to network and conduct business with those who are completely genuine and transparent.
  22. Follow Through - Follow up quickly and appropriately on business networking referrals. When people give you referrals, your actions reflect on them. Respect that and your referrals will grow.

Most people have business networks of manageable size. If you have an especially large network, you can hire a virtual assistant or an  outbound call center outsourcing to help you contact your network. Good outbound call centers have a wide breadth of relationship management experience and expertise that they can share.

Now it’s your turn. As I said earlier, this list is “far from complete.” What are some of your favorite business networking tips?

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Larry BraunerI’ve written many articles about social networking sites. Here’s some food for thought.

Facebook, LinkedIn and Ning call themselves social networking sites, while Twitter does not. However, Twitter has features like messaging and re-tweeting that can facilitate social networking.

Little Real Networking on Social Networking Sites

Social Networking SitesThese social networking platforms are extremely popular, but in my opinion, there’s little real social or business networking taking place on these online networking sites.

Sure, people are connecting and communicating on these sites, but few so-called social networkers are developing the important relationships that lead to the introductions, recommendations and opportunities they desire.

Social networking sites are used quite a lot to substitute for email, to share content, and to market products and services. Social networking sites are only infrequently used to build their users meaningful business or social networks.

Do you agree with my assessment, and if so, why do you think this is true? Lack of knowledge? Laziness? Other factors?

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Larry BraunerI’m still fatigued from My Social Media Mission Abroad in Basel, Switzerland and bruised from my tumble in the Rolex booth but please, don’t get me wrong. Baselworld 2011 and my meetings with the company’s watch brands were a total blast!

Content in social media is essential. My plan, you may recall, was to ask each of our watch brands to supply me regularly with content for our web site that features and promotes their watches.

My Meetings at Baselworld 2011

Baselworld 2011I’m writing a short blog post this evening to provide you with a tiny bit more information about these meetings at Baselworld.

I had four objectives in meeting with the marketing people from the watch brands:

  1. Build rapport and create a feeling of partnership between us
  2. Discuss the types of content they could provide that would be useful
  3. Request quality links from their sites to ours
  4. Explain my planned social networking site for the watch industry

Building rapport and relationships, were more important than all other objectives combined. The brands and I can now work together throughout the year to make our social media projects successful. That’s what made the Baselworld trip and my meetings with the watch brands such a blast.

Baselworld 2012

Needless to say, I’m hoping to be able to attend Baselworld 2012.

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Larry BraunerAt times, Facebook users create multiple personal profiles for business purposes in violation of Facebook’s Terms of Service that clearly state:

“You will not create more than one personal profile.”

These Facebook users usually create one personal profile for family, friends and acquaintances, and another personal profile for business associates and prospects.

The word personal in “personal profile” is easily misunderstood and deserves clarification.

Personal Profile vs. Business Page

FacebookWith a Facebook “personal profile” you network and acquire friends. It doesn’t matter whether these friends are personal friends or business contacts.

A Facebook personal profile is a friend page, and Facebook prohibits creating more than one friend page for yourself.

With a Facebook business page you brand your business and attract people who “like” your page.

A Facebook business page is a fan page, and Facebook permits creating more than one fan page for your business, although that might not be practical.

If You Have More Than One Facebook Personal Profile

If you find yourself in the predicament of having more than one Facebook personal profile, my recommendation here in six steps is very similar to my advice in last week’s OMG! I Can’t Use My Facebook Personal Profile for Business:

  1. Create a Facebook business page as soon as possible. Either How to Create a Facebook Fan Page or How To Set Up a Facebook Fan Page can help you to get started. Let me know if you need my help.
  2. If you have no more than a few hundred business friends on the Facebook personal profile you’re using for business, send each of them a private message explaining your situation and inviting them to “like” your new Facebook page. If you have too many business friends for this to be feasible, limit the procedure to your most important business friends.
  3. To avoid raising red flags with Facebook, don’t send more than 20 to 30 messages per day, don’t fire off messages rapidly and don’t merely cut and paste an identical script.
  4. Don’t say or imply that you’ll be deleting friends or threaten to remove them if they don’t comply. Such an approach is likely to backfire. Be courteous and professional.
  5. Read Why Should I Like Your Facebook Page? and Top 10 Ways to Get Facebook Page Fans for ideas to market and grow your new Facebook page.
  6. When most of your business friends have migrated to your new fan page, delete the extra Facebook personal profile you were using for business and breathe a sigh of relief.

6/14/11 Update: Facebook now provides a tool to convert a Facebook profile to a Facebook business page.

Before you hurry off, please subscribe to my blog, “like” my Facebook page and leave me a comment.

Best of luck with your Facebook business page! :-)

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Larry BraunerIn my 7 Issues to Consider About Doing Business on Facebook and ONE Facebook Business Page, No More, No Fewer, I strongly advised not to use your Facebook personal profile for your business, advice that was echoed in Top 5 Things Not to Do on Facebook on HubSpot.

Feedback from some very concerned small business marketers using their Facebook profiles for their businesses led to this follow-up article to address their concerns.

FacebookSome have a Facebook personal profile for personal use and one or more Facebook personal profiles for business use, in violation of Facebook’s Terms of Service, which state that “you will not create more than one personal profile.”

I shall discuss this situation next week in You Say I Can’t Have More than One Facebook Personal Profile.

Tips for Businesses Using Facebook Personal Profiles

If you’re employing one Facebook profile page for both personal and business use (or for business use only), I offer you these eight tips:

  1. Don’t panic. For most users, the choice of how to market yourself and your business on Facebook isn’t really a life or death matter. (For the small minority of Facebook business users for whom this choice is a life or death matter, your panic is understandable. Seek professional or law enforcement assistance without further delay.)
  2. If you’re comfortable enough with the many limitations I set forth in ONE Facebook Business Page, No More, No Fewer, stop reading these tips right here and continue to do as you’ve been doing up until now. If and when you see the light, return here and keep reading.
  3. Create a Facebook business page. Either How to Create a Facebook Fan Page or How To Set Up a Facebook Fan Page can help you to get started.
  4. If you have no more than a few hundred business friends on your Facebook personal profile, send each a private message explaining the situation and inviting them to “like” your new Facebook page. If you have too many business friends for this to be feasible, limit the procedure to your most important business friends.
  5. To avoid raising red flags with Facebook, don’t send more than about 20 messages per day, don’t fire off messages rapidly and don’t merely cut and paste an identical script.
  6. Don’t say or imply that you’ll be deleting friends or threaten to remove them if they don’t comply. Such an approach is likely to backfire.
  7. Read Why Should I Like Your Facebook Page? and Top 10 Ways to Get Facebook Page Fans for ideas to market and grow your new Facebook page.
  8. Don’t remove business friends from your Facebook personal profile unless you have a security or privacy issue that compels you to do so, since removing friends can not be undone.

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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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Larry BraunerSocial networking sites have each a unique protocol and don’t usually provide members with practical how-to advice to help use their sites effectively. They let us figure out the how-tos on our own.

I share in this article my basic LinkedIn how-tos that may shorten your learning curve and save you time and frustration. They are merely suggestions, not rigid guidelines. If you have an idea or advice you find helpful, please share it with us in a comment.

LinkedInHere are ten tips for maximizing your LinkedIn social networking success:

  1. Your LinkedIn profile is your resume. Put at least as much effort into creating and perfecting your profile as you would your resume.
  2. SEO can help you to be findable on LinkedIn, as well as other social networking sites. Employ keywords that are relevant to your work when crafting your profile, so that you and your profile can appear in search results.
  3. LinkedIn permits members to view profiles of other members within three degrees of separation from each other or who share common LinkedIn groups. Increasing your visibility increases your reach.
  4. To increase your vertical reach (in your areas of interest), join every relevant LinkedIn group. To increase your horizontal (i.e. overall) reach, increase your number of LinkedIn connections. I invite you to connect with me on LinkedIn!
  5. To increase your number of connections, connect directly to as many other members as you can, especially well connected members. You can send direct connections messages or emails whenever you wish.
  6. Don’t invite people to connect haphazardly, as LinkedIn will restrict you if people you invite complain that they don’t know you (as they sometimes do). Instead, join LinkedIn open networker groups, such as Top Linked, for people who welcome (but don’t necessarily accept) all connection requests. Reach out to fellow group members, and be receptive to members who reach out to you.
  7. Join discussions in groups by posting or commenting when you have something valuable to add, but don’t spam the discussion board or post anything inappropriate.
  8. Tell new connections you’re on Facebook (if you are) when thanking them for connecting. Facebook has made it hard to add friends, so this tactic is useful. (See 3 Key Social Media and Web Marketing Strategies for 2011: Good-Bye Facebook Open Networking.)
  9. Provide your Twitter handle (if you have one) where requested by LinkedIn to appear in your LinkedIn profile.
  10. Keep at it. It takes a very substantial amount of time to build a strong presence on LinkedIn or any of the other social networking sites.

Happy linking!

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Larry Brauner3 Key Social Media and Web Marketing Strategies for 2011 discussed the decline of open networking on Facebook, the revival of Ning networks and the continued relevance of websites and SEO in building your web presence.

Here are several more social media marketing ideas for the new year that can be especially helpful for small business marketers and entrepreneurs.

Bigger Long-Term SEO Objectives

GoogleOne of the most serious social media and web marketing mistakes I’ve ever made was choosing Online Social Networking as the name of this blog.

I considered naming my blog Social Networking Sites but decided not to, because social networking sites seemed too competitive a keyword phrase for the newbie that I was. Online social networking is searched for 12K times monthly compared to 250K for social networking sites. 12K per month seemed like more than enough traffic to me at that time.

Online social networking was a “reasonable” keyword term. Since it was much less popular than the often searched-for term social networking sites, I hoped to rank for it relatively quickly. However, in the long run, I believe that social networking sites would’ve brought me both greater and more profitable traffic.

My blog probably wouldn’t have yet hit the #1 spot in the search engines for the search term social networking sites as it has already for online social networking, but it would’ve ranked much higher for social networking sites than the present #32 and might have still placed close to the top for online social networking.

I should have considered long term potential and selected more ambitious keywords, just as I have for Gevril, for whom I’ve chosen tough keyword phrases, such as luxury watches and mens watches.

In month one, Gevril Group received 150 search visits. I’ll let you know what happens in month two.

Ning Network Groups

Ning Social NetworksNing groups function like Facebook groups with a few welcome exceptions:

  • Your potential emailing list is unlimited. You can broadcast to Ning group members even after their count exceeds 5,000.
  • The content of your Ning group can be indexed by Google and other search engines, and the greater your group membership, the greater your authority with the search engines will tend to be.
  • Group activity is displayed in your Ning network’s activity feed and transmitted to Ning group members who elect to follow you.

I’m ready and able to assist any group owner on my new Small Business Network who’s dedicated to building a large and influential Ning group, and the group need not necessarily be business-oriented.

Connecting One-to-One

SkypeYour personal network will be strong and prosper if you focus on networking one-to-one. Speak on the phone or over Skype even one time to each person, and you’ll surely build solid online relationships.

If you’re growing a Facebook page, a Ning group or a Twitter account, individually adding one-to-one connections can amount to a large number over time — and perhaps these connections will even help you make many more.

Hope you’ll find these social media and web marketing strategies useful.

Wishing you a successful year. :-)

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Larry BraunerThe social media and web marketing space is evolving, and we must therefore continually revise our social media and web marketing strategies and techniques.

Here are several cases in point that affect social media and web marketing practice, especially for small business.

Good-Bye Facebook Open Networking

FacebookFor years, Facebook was an open social networking site that permitted members to befriend people whom they didn’t know despite mounting privacy concerns.

However, in 2010, Facebook tightened its friending policies in order to combat phishing and spamming practices.

It appears that Facebook now evaluates friend requests based on degrees of separation and profiles users who repeatedly go out-of-bounds, restricting their friending capabilities.

Consequently, we must regard Facebook as a closed networking site going forward, despite the Facebook Freedom to Share and Connect principle, and find approaches to building our Facebook networks that don’t raise red flags.

Hello Ning Open Networking

Ning Social NetworksSince the Ning shift earlier this year from free or paid networks to paid-only networks, protest from disgruntled free-site creators has subsided and, as promised, Ning has come through with improved functionality upgraded periodically.

While Ning cannot compete with Facebook based neither on popularity nor functionality, Ning is nevertheless a great platform for creating niche social networking sites and for open networking.

I’ve dedicated the Small Business Network, my own Ning networking site, to the pursuit of open social and business networking, and I would be delighted if you would join me there.

You can still share via broadcast any of your Ning content, like blog posts or pictures, with all your Ning friends, a feature not found on the Facebook or LinkedIn social networks.

Search Engine Optimization Still Pays Big

GoogleNotwithstanding my remarks in The NEW Search Engine Optimization, search engines are still the mightiest source of website traffic, and SEO is still the most vital web marketing activity.

Social media sites send thousands of visitors per month to Online Social Networking. However, Google and other search engines send much more. Having a website or blog site and optimizing it for search engines and humans is of paramount importance if you want to market successfully on the web.

Put website development and optimization at the very top of your to-do list for 2011.

Please accept my sincere wishes for a healthy, fulfilling and peaceful New Year. I look forward to growing and sharing with you in the years to come.

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Larry BraunerFacebook is starting to look like other social networking sites. The once popular minimalist Facebook user interface has morphed into a collage of random images, notifications and advertisements.

Introducing the new In-Your-Facebook. The new Facebook could merge with MySpace, and we might not even notice. :-P

Facebook Personal Profiles not Great for Business

FacebookI listed 7 Issues to Consider About Doing Business on Facebook. Let me add another issue to my list: Facebook personal profiles aren’t professional looking any longer.

If you’re using your personal Facebook profile for business, my advice is to diversify your online social networking, so that you will be able to get along well enough without it.

Don’t abandon your personal profile yet, and certainly don’t stop building up your Facebook business or fan page. Facebook fan pages are still cool.

Facebook Networking Alternatives

LinkedIn, niche Ning networks and Twitter are all viable business networking alternatives to Facebook. I invite you to connect with me on each these platforms:

What do you think of the direction in which Facebook personal profiles are headed?

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