Larry Brauner

I’ve written quite a few articles about the Ning family of social networking sites focusing primarily on social marketing and business networking concepts.

In this article I address every type of Ning user.

By using Ning sites, not only can you transact business, you can also make new friends, discuss special interests, and promote favorite causes. You can network with people all over the world from the comfort and privacy of your home, any time of day or night.

I cannot cover every possible contingency, so feel free to ask questions below in the comments, and I’ll do my best to answer them.

Before looking at what you should do on Ning sites, I must explain one thing that you should never do on Ning or on any other social network.

Thou Shalt Not Spam

Last September, I slammed the practice of spamming in How Do You Like Your SPAM? If you’re not sure what spam is, please invest a few minutes to read through that article.

Spamming is something that you should never do on Ning or anywhere else. You’re spamming on Ning if you push unwanted advertising, commercial or otherwise, on other people by using:

  • private or instant messages
  • profile or blog comments
  • forum or discussion posts or comments
  • site, group, event, page or comment sharing
  • something I haven’t dreamed of listing here

Be considerate of your fellow site members at all times. If you want to advertise, use only your page’s profile and blog, and watch for my upcoming piece, Promoting Yourself on Ning.

Uploading Your Photo

When you join your very first Ning site, you need to upload your photo. While you can theoretically skip this step, a picture makes your site page friendlier and more credible.

If for some reason you believe that you cannot use your photo — or a family photo — then find another image to upload in its place. Avoid using the dreaded default image, since it implies a lack of seriousness on your part.

Creating Your Profile

Although volumes could be written on this subject alone, here are ten suggestions to help guide you:

  1. Get clear about who you are and what you represent.
  2. Study other people’s profiles. What do you like about them? Dislike?
  3. Know how you want to portray yourself on each Ning site.
  4. Express yourself in an accurate, friendly and interesting manner.
  5. Write in the first person. Avoid bad grammar, misspellings, overused clichés, exaggeration, distasteful slang, etc. Learn to write well — or find somebody who will help you.
  6. Include links to your relevant websites or blogs.
  7. Fill in the details each site requests as best you can. If the site doesn’t ask for enough, use your page’s Text Box to present additional information and links.
  8. Revise your profile often, as you re-invent yourself or gain clarity.
  9. Ask others for their opinions and listen carefully.
  10. Don’t wait to get started. As Mike Litman taught me: You don’t have to get it right. You just have to get it going.”

Making Connections

Once you have set up your page, you’re ready to invite people to be “friends” and accept friendship offers from other people.

I know that you’re not naive enough to believe that you can make friends with the click of a mouse, so I must explain to you what it means to be friends on Ning.

Please read the following very carefully:

When you make friends on Ning, you are each giving the other explicit permission to communicate directly using private messaging and Ning’s content sharing features.

E-mail messages will inevitably arrive in your inbox. Some will be spam and others not.

Ask yourself whether you’d mind receiving direct messages from a person. If yes, be friends. If not, pass. However, don’t be too cautious, since you always have the option to remove a so-called friend who has turned out to be problematic.

Communicating One-on-One

When you meet a new person offline, you communicate cautiously at first. You make small talk. Gradually you reveal details about yourselves, and a relationship develops. Approach online communication in the same way.

Be genuinely interested and ask questions to give your new friend an opportunity to open up to you. Reciprocate appropriately as you go along.

Use a profile comment or two to get a conversation going, and then switch to private messaging if and when it seems right. Don’t force anything. It’s better to take your time.

Communicating with the Community

In my opinion, the best way to communicate with all members at one time is by writing blog articles within the Ning site.

If you don’t know how to write, you’ll learn. This is a great way to get practice before starting a stand alone blog on Blogger.com or your own hosting account. Your writing will improve as you do more and more of it.

Write about topics that are important to you. Create a desire within your readers to return and read subsequent blogs. If your articles are helpful, the site creator may feature them, and that will help you to gain readers.

In Promoting Yourself on Ning, I’ll teach you how to promote your blog articles.

Inviting Friends

Social networking sites need new members to grow and thrive. All members share the responsibility for bringing in new members.

Use the Invite feature to send a short invitation to people whom you know. In the comments area of the invitation, say briefly why you like the site. If everybody participates in this process, everybody benefits from the new faces on the site.

Now It’s Your Turn

Ask questions below, so that I can clarify or elaborate on any of the points I’ve made in this article — or address any omissions.

Did you enjoy this article? Subscribe to my RSS feed or by e-mail. Also, visit my About, Services, Media Buzz and Connect pages to learn about Building Your Audience and Brand on the Web.

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18 Responses to “Introduction to Using Ning Sites”

  1. Theresa on June 28th, 2009 9:51 pm

    Hi Larry,

    Great article on Ning sites — I’ve had several people ask me what it was.

    Sissy

  2. Jeffrey D. on June 28th, 2009 10:11 pm

    Once again,

    Excellent post Larry!

    Incredibly informative as usual. With you promoting Ning, people will start recognizing it very soon!

    Why is Twitter so heavily promoted, and Ning is not?

  3. Rhonda on June 28th, 2009 10:13 pm

    Usefull tips, Larry. Thanks!

  4. Catherine White on June 29th, 2009 3:48 am

    I love NING for all the reasons you propose here. Well written…

  5. Dave Hale on June 29th, 2009 11:35 am

    Great info Larry, like always. Ning is really something that people are going to start recognizing and going to.

    Keep the good info coming.

    Chris Moniz
    VP Marketing
    Internet Marketing Professor

  6. Debbie Morgan on June 29th, 2009 1:04 pm

    Hi Larry!

    Great tutorial. Not only do you make friends with some really interesting people but if you’re intentional enough, you make some valuable business connections too.

    Deb

  7. social networking seo on June 29th, 2009 8:13 pm

    This is great information. Thanks for posting!

  8. chris collings on July 1st, 2009 2:03 am

    Hi Larry,

    Great article as usual, especially for a relative newbie like me.

    Another way to promote your favorite Ning site is to add a widget to your website or blog. This is basically a snippet of code that you place on your blog or website that links to the sign up area of the Ning site you like best.

    This code can be found by going to the Ning site where you are a member, scrolling down to the bottom and clicking on badges.

    Next you need to select the size of the graphic you want along with the color scheme.

    Lastly copy all the text in the embed code box, and paste it on your blog.

    Chris

  9. Mel Smith on July 1st, 2009 9:45 am

    Hi Larry,

    Thank you for this information,and thanks for the info on spam.

    When I joined the Ning Network, I received lots of friend requests, and joined several sites so I could inform people about natural health on my blog.

    Then I started to receive spam from many Ning sites I never even heard of.

    So the people that read this article are getting the word about spamming from Ning sites, and this will help people understand that their spam messages are not wanted by everyone.

    I have had to block some people that have sent me several messages daily, by blocking them. But for some reason, that doesn’t always work, as Ning still allows some to get through anyway.

    But thanks for your effort to explain the object of social networking and the benefits of it.

    Ning sites are a great way to build relationships on the Internet, when, as you say, you do it right.

    Mel

  10. DrErica on July 1st, 2009 6:26 pm

    I am involved in many online communities and have even created one or two of my own. However, I must admit, I have been remiss in inviting people to the site or to my community, and I have not kept up regular contact, the way you do Larry. I find, there are only so many hours in the day, and my attention often gets focused elsewhere.

    DrErica

  11. Jan-Marie on July 1st, 2009 7:29 pm

    Hi Larry

    Great article I have posted it to my groups on Essentially for Women Ning site.

    I am looking forward to reading more of your articles and how to promote articles etc. using Ning etc.

    I have so far managed to get Twitter going - @janmarie_qld. Though have not managed to generate any business via any of these mediums so that is where my focus is now.

    Thanks again
    Jan-Marie

  12. Larry Brauner on July 1st, 2009 8:02 pm

    Thank you Jan-Marie. I followed you on Twitter. I’m @larrybrauner

  13. susie hawes_ghostposts on July 1st, 2009 9:09 pm

    I posted this one via Sharaholic on my two blogs, Friend Feed, and Facebook. Great article.

  14. Ephran Price on August 17th, 2009 6:40 pm

    Good article Larry. Well explained. Thanks for the valuable info.

    Blessings

  15. Steve on September 16th, 2009 11:22 pm

    Larry, I would like to know how much of your 20/80 time you spend on Ning, versus Facebook and Twitter. Any suggestions?

  16. Larry Brauner on September 17th, 2009 12:02 am

    Steve,

    What’s right for me may not be right for you.

    However, my total time on all Ning sites exceeds my time on Facebook which exceeds my time on Twitter.

    I also spend time on blogging, analytics, e-mails and phone calls.

    Need to spend more time exercising.

  17. Create an Online Community or Simple Social Networking Website. Free. With Ning on November 21st, 2009 11:09 am

    […] Introduction to Using Ning Social Sites. A how-to from a user perspective.  Larry Brauner, Online Social Networking […]

  18. Duncan on March 5th, 2010 8:04 am

    Thanks. One of the more useful how-to Ning websites I ahve come across. All good advice.

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