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Social Media NetworksSocial media networks can sometimes look like a family tree, with yourself in the center, and different stems extending out to the different groups of people whom you know. When you start developing an online social media network of your own, you might even consider sitting down with a pen and paper, and creating a vision of your own social network as you know it.

This is simply the planning stage. When newcomers to social media dive in, they are often very excited by the bright lights and the technology, and forget that the secret to social media lies in understanding the purpose and function of the new media platforms.

Map out your offline social media network

Use a pen and paper to map out your social tree, which is just like a family tree, but that includes all of the social networks that you are already connected to offline. These are the people that you can bring into your social media profiles, and network with online, with the purpose of later securing sales.

Remember your network always starts off with you in the center. This is your network, and the people that are first included in your social media fans and followers list, will be people that you know already. They will be people that you work with, play sport with, colleagues that you’ve met at conferences, and even old school friends. Social media is about getting social, so make the most of all the connections that you already have, even if they don’t seem that substantial to start with.

So, get that pen and paper and start mapping out the different groups of your own. Once you have listed groups, including church groups, friends from Friday night drinks, family members and members of your volunteer groups, you might start to list individual names.  Add these in, just like you would, if you were drawing up a family tree, and you’ll soon start to realise all of the interesting and complex connections that you have, with people in the real world.

Understanding the connections

Understanding the people who you know is important. You will easily see which social groups that you fit into, when you start physically mapping out your social networks. At first it may even seem like a hard job, but once you start, you’ll soon realise that there are many different groups, places and faces, that you can add into you network. Remember, that all of these people have met you at some time, and you already have some level of trust or understanding with them. This means it is much easier for you to quickly and innocently add them to a social media network – even if the end result is that you succeed in business and convert the relationship into a selling or referring relationship.

Also remember, that while these initial connections might not match the target market for your business, these individuals can still be supporters of what you do. They can still be interested in what you are selling, what you are doing for work, or the service that you provide. If you are friends already, it is natural for people to be inquisitive about your work, so add them to your social media profiles, and let it happen. This interest is exactly what you need, because you’ll soon have people talking about what you do for work, and passing on referrals to your businesses to other people that they know.

Adding offline connections, into you online social media network

There are many ways to establish an online social media network, through bringing in people whom you already know. You don’t even need to be sneaky or cheeky about it. Remember that we live in a social world, and social media is wide spread. It is easy and completely polite to add contacts whom you’ve only chatted to briefly, or who you don’t know very well.

Social Media NetworkingSome networks like Facebook personal profiles are usually limited to people whom you know well, however each individual still uses their own profile in different ways. Other online networks such as Twitter and Pinterest actually encourage you to follow people who you have never met. That is the whole purpose of these platforms. Linked In is usually restricted to people that you have met already, or who are already within your existing social network.

The easiest method to start getting that social network from the map on the paper, into the online world, is to search for people who you know – but also remember to talk to people. Tell them to add you. Send them an e-mail, pick up the phone. Have a chat and start talking about your business or your new profile, and encourage people to join you in the fun.