[ For practical reasons, I decided to integrate the contributions of this topic in: "Business know-how" - 01-27-2012 ]
Networking is about meeting and building relationships with people for a purpose. It’s that last part that counts in the definition, the purposeful part. Otherwise we’re all just socializing, which is what much of it amounts to anyway because if you don’t know your purpose, it’s pretty difficult to achieve it.
That’s fine if you just enjoy socializing for the sake of socializing (and, actually, the best social networkers are people like that usually). However, if you’re spending marketing dollars and the prosperity of your business depends on the success of your social networking, you’d better do a bit more than socialize.
1. The Question You’d Better Answer First
Why are you interested in social networking? To build your business? How, exactly?Do you sell online or just promote online? Are you locally, nationally, or internationally focused? Do you want people to talk about your business online, share your links, spread the word about you, learn more about you, recommend you, sign up for a program, get a free sample, get your e-newsletter, read your blog, interact with you, ask questions, get a membership, order a product, pay for a service, refer you to their friends?