When I speak of the social networks I am referring specifically to building your nest on Twitter, finding friends on Facebook, connecting on Linked In, getting contacts on Ecademy, and expanding your reach on Plaxo. Yes, there are more, this is more than enough to overwhelm anyone. The beauty is there are some neat tricks and shortcuts to making it manageable, marketable and ultimately profitable!
Mistake #1: Too much business!
Solution: The rule of thumb in social networking is 80/20. That is to say that 80% of your communication is personal and 20% is professional. When you violate this rule and spend all of your time on business, friends, followers, and connections get turned off. Be sure to let them know not just what you are about but who you are and what is important to you. Sharing bits about family, your kids, trips you take, favorite restaurants, movie comments and more make you interesting and give a 360 view. It creates POINTS OF CONNECTION!
Mistake #2: Ignoring that your audience is mixed!
Solution: Fortunately I don’t see this often any longer but in the early days of the social networks I did. Comments like “I just urped up Chinese from lunch!” Yuck! And why did someone feel compelled to share that? Skip the bathroom talk and remember that your audience is male and female and we all know there are things we don’t share in mixed company! A guy might find this hilarious (remember they are the ones that think farting aloud is hysterical) but women generally don’t. And while women can joke to each other about panty lines and more, men don’t want or need to hear it!
Mistake #3: Extreme political or religious views!
Solution: Yes, I know I told you to get personal but temper it. This is a forum to showcase the best of yourself, we don’t need to know every nuance or extreme view. It is fine to let everyone know your political and religious views it is NOT okay to pound them into others, argue about them, and disrespect everyone else’s right to their own views and opinions.
Mistake #4: Not having an appropriate and inviting avatar or picture!
Solution: It is vitally important on any network to have an appropriate and inviting avatar, also known as a headshot. I say avatar because you don’t have to have a headshot, you can use an interior shot, an art piece, or something creative that fairly and really represents you. Don’t change it often it will confuse people. With as many faces and avatars as everyone has to remember you want to be consistent. Sure adding a Christmas hat, St. Patrick’s Day shamrock, or Valentine’s heart to your picture is fine, but changing it completely too often will only confuse. I make it a point not to friend or follow anyone without an avatar or photo. If you don’t have one, I presume you aren’t serious about getting connected. It is that simple.
Mistake #5: Forgetting to Add Value
Solution: When you do talk business it is important to make it value added content. That means that you want to share articles, blog posts, websites and more that are relevant, timely, and of value to your audience. Who is your audience? Only you can answer that. I’m betting that as a design professional it is prospects and clients, possibly vendors. Ask yourself what would they be looking for? How about design tips, articles on new furniture trends, links to hot decorating ideas. When you become their expert resource then YOU BECOME INDISPENSABLE!
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