Or is it spreading yourself too thin. How many social networking sites do you belong to, and how many are trying to get you to aggregate your contacts there? Most evident in my case is Plaxo and Spock. The invites have been coming in from folks I know on other networks, because those people have just joined up. But is it worth doing, or will some of those networks go by the way side?
I’ve been a Plaxo member for quite some time, as well as a member of LinkedIn. Most recently I’ve joined Spock. Of course, I’m on Facebook and other sites as well. Honestly? It’s making me crazy. I can’t remember all the networks I’m party of, let alone keep up with them or my contacts there.
Consolidation would be great. If only all of my contacts would just pick one network, sign up, and stay there. Not happening soon I’d say. And why not? It’s the ooh-ahh factor in part.
Yes, the online culture is one of follow the shiny newness wherever it shows up. Each new tool or network that pops up, a slew of my contacts will begin using it immediately, dragging the less ADD types along shortly. This has the effect of leaving old and well used networks high and dry of networking.
So what’s a network socialite to do? Jump ship like the rest of their friends? Abandon the old tried and true? Perhaps dig in their heals and stay behind?
I recommend a third alternative. Pick a few and stop. Draw your line in the sand at your two or three life essential networking sites and tools and leave the rest to develop. Find the best tools you can that return the most value for the time you spend.
Making the top three choice can seem difficult if you focus totally on the quantity of contacts. Contact quantity though, does it really speak to the value of that network? The key is what does that network provide you in terms of true connectivity, ease of use, and ability to take action through and with that network.
Believe it or not, my favorite social networking tool is Twitter. It’s simple, easy to use, and allows direct conversation between friends. No special client is required. Tons of add ons as well.
Second favorite? Facebook. Facebook allows me to add more contacts than I actually have. I can contact them simultaneously. We can quickly form groups, organize photos, plan events, and support common causes. A very actionable site, as well as easy to make contact through.
Plaxo, LinkedIn, and others may be good address books, but there is little that you can accomplish there that a good Rolodex product wouldn’t serve the same purpose.
So you’ve selected your two or three favorite usable and high value networks, what next? Here’s a few tips on how to stay dug in.
1) Reach your contacts through your key chosen networks and not just to say hello. Contact them to accomplish things. Form a group, exchange ideas, or better yet, meet in person.
2) Let folks know you’re there – List your chosen network contact information in your signature, and on your other networks. Make sure your blog refers to them.
3) Let your contacts know why – Let everyone you contact or have contact with know why those are your chosen networks. Give them reason to check them out and join, or maintain their use of that network.
4) Expand your contacts on those networks – Get to know more people on those networks. Get to know the founders if possible. On Twitter, it is possible to make direct contact with the founders on their own service. Likewise on Utterz, and Seesmic as well.
So if you want to stop the madness, then start with yourself. Be picky about where and how you network. Making a choice is important not just to keep in touch with your friends and fellow business contacts, but it’s about your brand as well.
Brands can ‘be everywhere’ or they can really be present on the networks they are part of. Which will it be for you and your brand?