Larry BraunerBusiness networking sites enable you to make business connections, and through their networking and marketing tools, business networks also facilitate personal branding and online business marketing.

This article discusses features of Ning networks. However, many Ning features are also available on other business networking sites like LinkedIn and Facebook.

Ning Social NetworksThe following are 10 facilities of Ning networks that used in concert will help you build a powerful personal brand and effectively market your business:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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!
  8. 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.
  9. Uploaded Photos - A picture is worth a thousand words. Upload pictures and label them so that people can appreciate them.
  10. Status Updates - Status updates are still a half-baked Ning feature, but use them anyway, since you never know who might be reading them.

I created and moderate the Small Business Network Ning site, Open Networking and Lifetime Learning for Small Business Owners and Their Clientele. Please join me there.

I also moderate a group at the My Linking Power Forum Ning network, It’s About Linking Power!

If you’re new to this blog, I invite you to subscribe. :-)

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Larry BraunerThis is my final online event of the summer. I’m kicking my new business networking site with some fresh ideas, and you’re invited to the party.

While I encourage you to join one my new site, you’ll also have to be a member of Facebook to participate in all the festivities.

Here are six steps to follow (please read carefully):

  1. Start by joining Small Business Networking. If you can’t sign up, have a look at Ning Sign-Up Glitch Frustrates Users.
  2. Fill in your profile completely, including My Current Networking Objectives, which you’ll use when you introduce yourself at the event. Add a profile picture, avatar or logo. Picture are best, since people like to network with real people with real faces.
  3. Go to my Facebook business pagenot my profile page.
  4. Share the link to your new business profile. (If you join both sites, share one link one day and the other another day.) Include your current networking objectives in the comment area by pasting that information from your new business profile. (Enclose it in quotes if you like.) Press the share button, and your update will appear on my page.
  5. Now share that with your Facebook friends. Click on the share link, and write in the comment area why you joined a new site and ask your friends to connect with you there.
  6. Go back to my Facebook business page and visit with the other people who’ve posted there. You may want to add some of them as Facebook friends and friends on the new business site.

New Business Networking Sites Grand Opening Party Watch for an announcement on Thursday about the party’s grand finale.

If any of my instructions don’t make complete sense, I accept full responsibility. Sometimes (often?) I’m a bit too complicated. :(

We can resolve any questions in the comment area of this blog post. See you at the party. Be there or be… :-P

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Larry BraunerMy new free open business networking site, containing both offline-online and educational components, has opened using the Ning social and business networking platform. This networking site serves entrepreneurs and small businesses worldwide.

Business NetworkingA unique aspect of this business site is that they’ll help connect offline networking groups, facilitating communication among group members and attracting new group members online.

You do not need a business to join.

Business Networking Site

This is the new business networking site with its .Co domain name. Click on the links to join:

Small Business Networking - http://www.SmallBusinessNetwork.Co

Group owners will be site ambassadors and promote their groups and hopefully conduct business with complete transparency and integrity.

You too can help spread the word about these new business networking sites, if you like. ;-)

Most Popular Social and Business Networking Sites

Also, I’m now frequently updating my blog post on the Most Popular Social and Business Networking Sites that has already been accessed more than 8,000 times since July 2009. If you have any suggestions for that article, please comment there.

If you own a social or business networking site and would like to sponsor that blog post, you can contact me directly.

I recommend that you subscribe to Online Social Networking and “Like” me on Facebook, so that we can stay connected. Comments are welcome, as well. :-)

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Larry BraunerI just launched my second promote your self/cause social and business networking event on Facebook which will run until Monday, August 2. My January Facebook fan page event went viral and drew hundreds of participants. Many of them made valuable new connections.

How the Event Works

Facebook
This social and business networking Facebook event is fairly simple. Here’s how I envision the event working:

  1. Registration - You go to the Facebook event page where you RSVP that you’re attending.
  2. Go to the Event - Then you go to my Facebook business page where the event is taking place. Note that the event is not taking place on the event page wall.
  3. Join My Facebook Business Page - If you’re already a member of my Facebook page, fine. If not, click “Like” to join.
  4. Post on My Facebook Business Page Wall - Write something informative about yourself, and if you like, attach a relevant link. You may post one time every day, but try not to write the same thing each day that you post. Don’t post religious, adult or highly controversial content.
  5. Check Out the Posts of Others - Find posts that resonate with you. Make sure you scroll down and click on “older posts” to view any posts that have rolled off the page.
  6. Leave a Good Comment - Usually, sharing a positive opinion and asking a question help to get a conversation going. If a conversation is already in progress, you can join that conversation. Always be kind and courteous, even when you disagree.
  7. Follow Up - When you receive a comment, always reply or follow up in some other way like sending a private message, requesting to be friends or doing something you said you’d do. Effective follow-up is an essential part of both social and business networking, online or offline, and it’s where most wanna-be networking mavens fall short.
  8. Promote the Event - Your help promoting our event will help make it more successful. The best ways to promote it are: sharing this blog post wherever you can and using the “+ Select Friends Button” on the event page to invite your Facebook friends. On Twitter, please use hashtag #11dayparty or click here for a pre-formatted tweet.
  9. Concerns or Complaints - Contact me privately with any concerns or complaints using one of the methods in my connect page.
  10. Stay Connected - If you aren’t subscribed to this blog, you can subscribe by email or via RSS feed.

Promote Yourself Here in a Comment

You may also promote your self/cause in a comment on this article and get a good dofollow link back to your website or blog site. However, I do have a few guidelines for you to follow:

  • Rules #4 and #6 from the list above apply here, as well.
  • Use your real name in the name box.
  • Place your link in the link box, not in the body of your comment.
  • Use at least one of the following words in your comment: business, networking, Facebook, event and page. It will help with SEO. Try to be natural and not force it.
  • I reserve the right to edit or remove any comments, as always.

Now that all the formalities are out of the way, it’s time for the social and business networking on Facebook to begin. Let’s have fun and get to know each other. :-D

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Larry BraunerI’ll share one of my idiosyncrasies with you, but promise you won’t laugh: Most people go to the library to find books — not me. When I accompany my kids to the library, I take my own books with me to read while waiting for them to finish.

Think that’s peculiar? I can assure you that there’s a totally rational explanation: It’s rare to find the trendy business books I like to read at a library. I’m much more likely to find them at a bookstore.

Still, my kids like to tease me about this seemingly odd behavior.

Looking for Trendy Business Books at the LibraryImagine my surprise when on a recent library visit, I found both Crush It! by Gary Vaynerchuk and Six Pixels of Separation by Mitch Joel in the new arrivals section. Finding these books was a fluke, but nevertheless, I do plan to check back in that section in the future. ;-)

I read and thoroughly enjoyed Crush It!. The words of @garyvee helped to reinforce and refine my personal approach to business and social media branding. (I’m still in the middle of Six Pixels of Separation and liking it so far.)

Business developers are starting to approach me to explore joint ventures. They tell me how successful they are and then talk to me about changing my path, building a giant email list and making videos.

Gary, on the other hand, talks about building your personal brand through social media by being authentic and “delivering your content by video, podcast, or blog.” Being authentic guarantees to “differentiate you from everybody else, including those who share your niche or business model.”

Gary’s whole book resonated with me. However, his emphasis on building a personal brand around one’s passion got me to stop and reflect for several days about my own passion.

I realized that while I love social media, the web, and data crunching, I have a greater passion for helping people solve difficult problems. Throughout my career, I’ve been happiest when solving business problems has been at the core of my work.

Gary Vaynerchuk writes that loving your family, working super hard and living your passion are the keys to success. What’s your passion, and are you building your personal brand and future around that passion?

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Read down to the end of the comments for the latest Hubze news!

Larry BraunerPeople often ask me to have a look at brand new social networking sites. I typically decline, as I prefer to invest my time checking out social sites that have already gained acceptance.

However, this week, when my blogging friend John from EZGreatLife.com sent me to Hubze, a social media site that might help me brand myself and tie together Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other social networking sites, I decided to investigate.

Social Networking SitesAccounting for my motivation was an expectation that the aggregation of social websites will be a major focus of 2010, as enabling technologies like semantic web come to the forefront. Don’t we all wish it would be easier to organize and streamline our many social networking sites?

The landing page provided little information. It did however indicate that I could become a beta tester if I joined by noon my time on the 13th, and I joined. John had told me that there would be gifts for the beta testers, but I’d have signed up right away in any case.

Hubze, Pronounced Hub-Zee, Formerly Moneza

Last night I attended a webinar to learn some details. I’m far from an expert, but this is what I learned:

  • Hubze (formerly Moneza) is the name of the website, and it’s free to join.
  • In my opinion Hubze and the Hubze Card are useful and timely ideas in their early stages of implementation, and I do not believe that Hubze is a scam.
  • Membership includes your Hubze Card (which resembles Card.ly but is substantially more powerful). Your Hubze online business card provides your contact information, links to your active social sites and displays your live update feed (pretty much like Friend Feed does). The Hubze Card also displays how many people you are tracking (following) and how many you are tracked by (followed by), an indication of your social influence and clout.
  • The Hubze Card is viral, as viewers are encouraged to get their own. When they do, they become part of your growing network, which expands outward from you at its center. This helps to grow your brand virally, but exactly how that works, I don’t yet understand.
  • There will be a back office from which you’ll manage your Hubze Card and from which you’ll post updates to all your social sites at once (much as if you were using Friend Feed or ping.fm).

This is the Hubze Registration Page. Please join me at Hubze and we’ll build our networks there. Watch for the next Hubze webinar which will provide us with more details.

Coming in on the ground floor (as I did with both Twitter and Ning) will facilitate your community building process. :)

Read the comments below and leave one of your own if you like.

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Larry BraunerOur website promotion event and social media party was an enormous success. Hundreds actively participated, introducing their web sites, engaging in dialog and making new connections.

Fortunately, the time frame for the networking phase of the event is open-ended, so drop by my Facebook page any time to meet some new people and check out what they’re up to. I’ll be busy working on the page for a few more days, reviewing web sites I haven’t yet visited.

Self PromotionOur four-day event was in part an experiment, as Tom Woolf pointed out. A key takeaway for me is that many people are promoting their products, services, companies interests and causes but not sufficiently promoting them- selves.

Keeping a low profile may occasionally be appropriate. However, in general, self-promotion is integral to social media marketing and public relations.

These are eight reasons why self-promotion and injecting yourself into your content are very important:

  1. You transcend your interests.  No interest or group of interests, no matter how passionate you are about them, can fully define you as a person. Admittedly, this point is too existential, so…
  2. Your subject matter might lose relevance. For example, your product can be discontinued or your company can go out of business. Your content will become irrelevant with no residual benefit from the effort you put into creating and promoting it. However…
  3. You’re always relevant as a person. You have inherent value, and you’re completely portable from one venue to another.
  4. You and I are unique. People aren’t interchangeable, but products, services and organizations tend to be.
  5. You and I are memorable. People will come to remember us and our faces once they see us a few times.
  6. People prefer to do business with people they know, like and trust. It has always been that way, even before Al Gore allegedly invented the Internet. You and I can relate to people and build solid social capital.
  7. Synergy. Our diverse interests and content work to build a bigger and more insightful picture of us.
  8. Social media is uhh, social. You and I are social. Our jewelry and weight loss products merely facilitate social interaction. People relate to people, and their relationships are ongoing.

More about promoting yourself and personal branding in upcoming articles.

At this time, you can probably suggest additional reasons for keeping it social, and I expect that you will. ;-)

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