Building a relationship by social networking with others can be extremely beneficial, and profitable. The first social networking site I belonged to was hi5, which was "all the buzz" a few years ago (at least here in Canada). Later came MySpace, and now it's Facebook.
Here's why I like social networking and why I believe you need to establish yourself in the latest social trends.
Conversing with other internet users is nothing new. There are actual people on the other end of the screen you know. Joining a network on your favorite social networking site based on your niche, or interest is a great place to start. For example, I belong to over 40 Facebook groups related to either making money online, working from home, business, marketing etc. I also keep touch with the local scene and have several groups in reference to my city and province. Participating in the wall postings of such groups and making chit chat with other users may not seem like you're making an impact, but you are. Just think of how many times your message is read in a group with 20,000+ members. After all, you're all there because you have an interest in the same subject and people tend to feel more open amongst others with the same interests. It's human nature.
Profiting from your "friends"
It's no secret that internet marketers have been milking the social networking sites for all their worth laTely. Not only does it turn a quick profit, but you can generate a ton of traffic to your site. The down side is that too many people are doing it and it's extremely seated. I'm personally not a fan of this method, but I know many are. I'm constantly exposed to numerous offers on Facebook and MySpace for (fill in the blank). You name it, marketers are pushing it! Maybe you can make money quick by doing this, but it's not a stable income which will last you. I suggest adding legitimate users to your contact list and becoming actual 'friends'. Whenever I launch a new site or I think an offer is worth promoting I send out a message or wall post to my contacts. I'm obviously no stranger to them and when they read it they really take an interest in what I have to say. I find this to be very successful and I do not feel as if I'm spamming anything unsolicited, but rather keeping in touch with my peers.
Networking for your own benefit
Establishing professional business relationships with your contacts is key. I've met many interesting and insightful people over the years online and it's helped me in my business tremendously. When I was in need of a new website design for one of my ventures I knew of 3 designers I could call on to help me out. All three were spread out across North America, but that did not matter. I contacted a friend of mine who I had been IMing with for a few months and what I had made contact with via a MySpace group on web development. He was a professional designer who charged professional prices. I was not expecting any preferential treatment when it came to cost, but indeed I got some. The designer charged me 30% less than his regular clients. Why? He knew me (virtually) and we had talked on numerous occasions. To him I was not just another customer, but a business acquaintance. I'm not positive if my other two designer friends would have accommodated me accordingly like this one had, but you never know.
Social networking will only get bigger and you need to take full advantage of it and get involved as much as possible. You not only connect and meet new people, but it can help you out in ways you never imagined. I hate to be cliché, but it's like the old saying (You scratch my back … well, you know the rest).