1. Pick three: There are many social networks online to choose from. I recommend picking three so you can manage them effectively. For career management and business development, I recommend: LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook.
Yes, I said Facebook. It has more than 900 million users with 500 million mobile users on devices like smartphones and iPads. As of August 2012, LinkedIn has more than 175 million members.
2. Create a branded bio: Tell a story in your profile (bio). Don’t just regurgitate your resume information or company bio. Know that chemistry helps you land and KEEP new clients (and a job). Likability counts, so be interesting.
3. Know what you want: When you start networking online, it’s important to know what you want from the activity. If you want new clients or a new job, be sure your profile is on brand, professional, and communicates your scope of practice. Have a professional headshot as well—people want to see your smiling face. People do business with people, not logos or silhouettes.
4. Join a group: Know that in order to make the most of an online group you’ve got to take an active role. Join groups where your ideal clients will be, including niche and specialty groups. Join professional groups, like ASTD, as well as your college alumni groups. People like to do business with those having similar backgrounds, interests or experiences.
5. Be relevant and add value: Social networking gives you a chance to demonstrate your thought leadership and set yourself apart from your competition. Take the opportunity to answer questions from members in your groups. Update your status regularly with quick tips, article links, and blog posts.
Take Action: Review your current social media activity and identify at least three action items from the above list you can implement immediately. Make an action plan to effectively manage your online network and communicate with your contacts regularly.
This article is adapted and updated from Rock Your Career® June 1, 2011. Read the original post here.