I constantly hear from peers and elders how in their day and age, there was no internet and you had to go to a library or write to a pen pal if you wanted to socialize with others far away or learn different cultures. I can remember these days well. But now, we have social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. We can instantly connect with people in different states and even countries, all from the comfort of our own home. An added bonus is the ability to advertise our small businesses across these distances as well. In this technological age, there are still some who don't quite know where to start networking. They may avoid it because they feel its a bit difficult, but the opposite rings true. Its actually very easy.
1. Sign up for an account, first and foremost. The most popular sites today are Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest. MySpace is trying for a comeback, as they have just released their updated version of the social networking site, in beta. All that is required to set up an account is a valid email and your information which is kept secure.
2. Once signed up, you may be asked to verify your email. Just sign into your email, click the verification link and you'll be redirected back to the site. From here, you can personalize your profile so others can find you easily.
3. Add interests such as movies, books, hobbies or anything that strikes your fancy and will help you connect with like-minded individuals. When you have something in common, its easy to make friends.
4. Add a picture. Most people prefer a picture of themselves since they tend to reach out to long lost friends and relatives. You can do this or add a picture of something you like. Just make sure your not infringing upon any copyrights to the picture's owner.
5. Set your privacy preferences. With so many "hackers" stealing social networking accounts, its a good idea to keep your page private and readable by friend only and to require a confirmation code if your account is accessed through a computer not your own. This can be found in the account privacy settings on your profile page.
6. Start searching for friends. Many sites offer a search bar at the top of your page, allowing you to type in a friend's name or location. This helps you find who you are looking for quicker. Just make sure they have a profile on your chosen social networking site. Once you find a friend, visit their profile by clicking their name and you can easily add them as a friend, thus linking them to your profile.
7. If you own a blog or small business, social networking can help drive up customers or traffic to your site. Try creating a group page for your business or blog. You can also do this from your profile page. Create a catchy picture and slogan then make sure you link your group page to your personal profile. This helps people find your page easily.
8. Update your personal and group pages daily. You want to keep people interested and coming back for more. Warning: Don't give too much info out, though. Keep it general and to the point without sharing too much or becoming involved in needless drama. There are people who have been known to abuse others via social networking. These people can be blocked! As they should be.
Life online is full of possibilities when it comes to expanding your horizons. Although reaching out is easier, never forget socializing in-person. It is important to also get out into the world and speak to others face to face. Don't rely solely on the internet or you may find yourself addicted and going nowhere. Use social networking and personal socializing in unison with each other, to enhance your friendships and grow your business or blog. Before you realize it, you'll be a pro.