Social networks can be referred to as a complex social structure in which people connect with one another. Social networks have been around for as long as there have been human beings. People established networks by interacting with one another. Now that there is internet, which allows people to break the physical boundaries and connect with others in almost everywhere and at any time, will people find it easier to build a social network?
Likewise in the cyber world, online connections may not necessarily mean social networks. For example, there are online connections we know nothing about other than their name and job title. There are also connections we might know in person but do not talk to each other for years. Will you trust a connection like that and do business with him/her? If we cannot even trust a person’s profile, how can this connection turn into a beneficial relationship? Will you still consider this person part of your social networks?
If we want to turn our online connections into our valuable social networks, we must be able to network with our connections through on-going conversations. I believe the following networking tactics may help:
· Update all user profiles in social networking sites. Make sure there are a professional picture and a brief work history that shows a person’s work ethic.
· Make notes about the connections, which can be used as references for follow-up conversations. LinkedIn, for example, allows users to write notes on their first connections’ profiles. Such notes are only visible to the user himself/herself.
· Interact with connections by clicking “Like” or posting a short comment on their updates. Ask questions if the topic/conversation interests you.
· Send birthday wishes, season’s greetings, and “congratulations” to connections if they post good news.
· Share useful information on connections’ wall or through e-mail if they might have interest.
· Tag or mention connections in an update or a picture on one's own wall if the connections may have interest.
· Ask intellectual questions and seek feedback from the networks.
Social networking sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn provide an additional means for people to stay connected. However, just as what we do in a traditional setting, we must continuously engage with our connections on social networking sites to build a valuable social network.
How important do you see an on-going conversation in a relationship? What other tactics will you suggest to help people better engage with their connections on social networking sites?
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