7 and-a-half tips to start social networking

social media people1. Get on Twitter.

2. Try Twitter Advanced Search to plug in keywords that apply to your business, ideas and interests. (You can even get an RSS feed as new tweets come in with your chosen terms. Personally, I prefer Tweetdeck as it creates columns with your searches in a nice interface and keeps updating them until you delete them.)

2.1/2. If you need help coming up with keywords, use the Google Keyword Tool on Google Adwords to generate keywords. (It’ll even scan your website and suggest keywords based on your content.)

3. Connect with Twitter users who are posting about the topics you’re interested in. Tweet them. Follow them. Let them do the same with you.

4. Do similar things on other social networks like Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, Orkut, etc. (Check Wikipedia for a list of social networking sites to try. But remember to focus. There’s overlap among social networking sites.)

5. Use Google Blog Search to search for bloggers who may be interested in your topics, too. Then email them, post on their blog, and make contact. Invite them to do the same when appropriate.

6. Consider using a social aggregator to manage all your networks in one place. (I’m using Minggl, mainly because it connects all the networks I’m on and features a status blast so I can update across all of them at once.)

7. Keep focused. Treat social networking like any other professional to-do. Set a goal and stick to it. Social networking is resource- and time-intensive. Enlist help as needed, especially if you’re doing this for a company or organization.