Friday, November 14, 2008

Networking Part Three: Facebook

I'll admit it. I'm a Facebook junkie. I was skeptical when a business contact told me I should get a Facebook page earlier this year. In my mind, it was for college kids. At the time, I didn't realize that, in addition to being a lot of fun, it's useful.

In fact, I found out about a lot of the networking events I've attended recently through Facebook. More and more businesses and organizations have pages on Facebook. When you become a fan of a business or join a group, you receive notices of events they're holding. It's also a good way to promote your business. I used it to announce the launch of my new Web site when I had it up and running.

Here's an example to illustrate how useful Facebook has been to me:

Recently, I saw that one of my business contacts was attending a networking event. (For those of you who aren't familiar with Facebook, when you RSVP for an event on the site, it notifies all your contacts of your intention to attend.) I clicked on the link to the event, read about it and visited the Web site of the organization using a link from the event page. I joined the group, which is a networking organization for young local professionals, and registered to attend their next event.

I could give several more examples of how this particular social networking site has been useful to me in my freelance business. Now it's true I could have found out about the event by talking to someone, but these things don't always come up in the course of a conversation. Exploring Facebook by looking through the profiles of contacts and searching for groups and businesses has allowed me glean all types of useful information.

Let me share of a few tips for using Facebook:
  • Be careful what you share on Facebook. Realize that your statements and activities have the potential to be seen by many, many people. If you're using the site even partially for professional purposes, you don't want to appear in an unfavorable light.
  • Explore. Search for individuals, businesses and groups. Look through your contacts' profiles for interesting groups or events.
  • Don't be afraid to make contact. On Facebook, you ask individuals to be your "friend," which allows them access to your information and keeps them updated on your news and vice versa. Before asking someone to be your friend or accepting a friend request, you can view how many mutual friends you have with someone and who they are. That way, you can widen your network to acquaintances and friends of friends.
  • Use Facebook's communication tools. Becoming friends with local business professionals who are little more than acquaintances allows you to send them personal messages. That way, you can contact them directly without having an e-mail address.
  • Beware of Facebook addiction. It happens to the best of us, particularly when you have a Facebook application on your mobile phone.

Facebook may not be for everyone, but I've found it extremely useful. Besides, it meets one of the most important criteria for a freelance writer just starting out—it's free!


LMeny said...

I would agree. I think that it is a wonderful asset. But I feel as though addiction is a concern. I also saw a group of teacher who are going to be suspended due to inappropriate pictures on Facebook. Nice post;

Athlyn Green said...

I also use Facebook because you can add your article updates via Twitter, and a number of your other sites. Each time you post to those sites, your work shows up on Facebook. Also, you can post an article link, which then goes out to all your friends. This, if used properly, is a great way to let others know what you've been up to.

Facebook also has a handy widget, which you can install on your blogs to point readers to your articles.

Facebook really is versatile. I, too, am becoming addicted.

Contact me via my blog and I will add you as a Facebook friend.