Social Networking: More Than Pokes and Games

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buzz1.jpgADOTAS EXCLUSIVE — As someone who remembers disco (albeit as an elementary school student), sometimes I have to wonder about the intrinsic value of social networks. I don’t feel the need to get “poked” or to have people write things on my “wall,” nor am I interested in having people send me “awesome” new games and widgets to try.

But as a publicist working with several online marketing technology solution providers, I felt obliged to join and begin to understand social networks and how my clients can tap into them to improve their communications efforts.

Though I’m not sure how effective social networking would be for my business-to-business clients (because of how their marketing programs are structured), when I started thinking about the true value of social networks, I realized that social networking has been very effective for my own public relations agency.

Within my own social network of clients and colleagues, all of my current clients have come from referrals. And about 90% are generated by one client and the clients referred by employees of that client.

Though none of these connections happened through one of the existing social networks, I suppose that it’s only a matter of time.

And in the last two weeks, I actually have introduced some of my clients, so they could collaborate on various projects (though I plan on keeping myself out of the collaboration after making the introduction).

My point: Without “poking” and playing games, I have derived a lot of value from my personal social network.

Truth be told, social networks have existed for thousands of years. Alumni networks, fraternity and sorority houses and the local golf club are examples of social networks. And for as long as they have existed, business (and other) people have been using them for networking purposes to increase their business.

But the real value of today’s online social networking platforms versus other social networks have to do with (1) the immediacy with which we can make social connections, and (2) the lack of physical boundaries in making those connections.

I can join Facebook and start looking for groups of like-minded people and join their groups. I can then initiate invitations to people with whom I share common interests. Though these people do not have to accept me as friends, I suspect that the great majority of invites are accepted.

Just this afternoon I reviewed the LinkedIn connections of two of my connections. Though I have yet to reach out to someone through LinkedIn or one of the other social networks, I believe that it’s only a matter of time.

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