It can be a bewildering task for those just getting started with social media/on-line networking. What should I expect? What networks to join? What are the “rules“? How do I begin?
Fortunately, there is help – the social networking crowd is very giving and supportive. There are many reasons why businesses and marketers should use social media (See Chris Brogan’s 50 Ways here), but let’s focus on the individual for the moment. Why are you getting involved in Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn/blogging? Is it just to chat with friends, or to promote yourself, or to create an Opportunity Network? Are your trying to connect with the past, build for the future, or some combination of both? Your main goal(s) will determine how – and where – you get started.
Then, you need to decide just how much of yourself you want to share, and where. There are at least 5 levels of participation, with growing levels of transparency, disclosure, and interaction. Do you simply want to put the basics of your professional resume on-line as a passive outposting strategy? Do you want to create more formal connections with professionals through a platform like LinkedIn? Are you interested in lifestreaming, whereby you’re sharing various personal thoughts and media through applications life Facebook, Twitter, and the like? You may wish to join more private, “walled garden” communities that are built around a specific area of interest. Or, you may choose to disclose yourself much more fully on open web communities like Twitter, or via blogs and other public platforms. Bear in mind that you may start at a certain level, and then, as your comfort level with on-line disclosure grows, you may well evolve into new levels.
Whatever you choose for an approach, there are resources to guide you. Amber Naslund has put together a great little Social Media starter kit (free download). I’ve also created a free e-book (Getting Started with Social Networking) with loads of links and resources for those taking initial steps into the on-line networking world. Antony Mayfield has produced a nice (free) overview of social media. And a whole bunch of friendly networkers on the various platforms described stand ready to help you “learn the ropes.” People like Gavin Heaton, Jane Hart, Paul Gillin, Mack Collier, and many others who once – well, just started.
So, maybe someone you know pointed you to this post and said, “Get Started!” What are you waiting for? Jump in and join the network – shallow end or deep, the water’s fine!