Thursday, January 29, 2009

Online Networking for Freelance Writers

I've been enjoying Words on the Page blogger Lori's recent discussions about Twitter, Face book and other social networking sites. Her posts have inspired split comments where some readers consider these sites time wasters refusing to get sucked in, and others swearing they're worth it. Time is a big issue for freelancers because the reality is that time is money. You definitely have to manage the time you spend n these sites, but I must admit that I'm starting to see and reap the benefits of being a virtual social butterfly.

I'm a bit of a late bloomer when it comes to social networking online. I've only been a full-time freelance writer for 17 months now. I started blogging for the first time last summer, and just joined Twitter, Face Book and Linked In around three months ago. For me it's been sort of like a science experiment to see for myself if they are all everyone says they're cracked up to be. Here are my findings so far:

Twitter

I follow a lot of interesting people on Twitter. If you are using it primarily as a business networking tool (which is my mission), you need to make sure to get the basics down pat. I highly recommend reading Darren Rowse's (Problogger) blog Twitip.com.

I'd say the majority of people I follow are other writers/bloggers, Internet marketers and small business experts. In the beginning I spent way too much time on there, and lately I've barely been able to post a tweet because of my overwhelming work volume. I hope to soon find some middle ground so that I'm not completely forgotten.

I have managed to get a couple of regular clients from Twitter without even trying. I also have constant access to tons of useful information for my business, so for me Twitter is a keeper.

Face Book

I'm not ashamed to say it – I still don't get how Face Book helps you in business. I hear about people getting kicked off for too much self-promotion so I think I may be missing something here. In the meantime, I've enjoyed reconnecting with friends and my old newspaper colleagues, so it's all good.

Linked In

It took me the longest time to post my profile, and I'm still not 100 percent happy with it so I'll probably be changing it soon. When I first set up my account I didn't know what to do with it, so I just let it be. Every now and then someone finds me and connects with me. I recently started using some of the cool new applications, and I also plan to request recommendations from a couple of past and present clients to give it more juice.

Tuesday a local company found me on Linked in and sent me an email asking if I would be interested in working on a few copywriting projects. Unfortunately it didn't pan out because they wanted me to meet with them in person to discuss the opportunity, but my current schedule was making that impossible. At least now I know having a Linked In account is not for nothing.

These are only my personal experiences so far. I plan to spend more time learning to use each of these networking tools more effectively. Stay tuned.

5 comments:

Jennifer said...

I have stayed away from these social networking sites for the most part. I know that I would be one of those people that would spend more time on there then writing.

After reading your post, I may have to reevaluate my position. I may attempt linked in. Thank you for the helpful information.

Devon Ellington said...

Facebook's no good for me -- you can't use pseudonyms. I just don't get Twitter. Tried LinkedIn and hated it.

I suppose I should learn how to use Twitter --- maybe somewhere down the line.

Kimberly Ben said...

Jennifer: That's exatly why I resisted joining for this long. I dn't know how people belong to more than three, honestly. I barely have time for Twitter right now. Some people become obssessed about people "unfollowing" them like it's some kind of high school popularity contest. I'm there for information, promotion and being able to make meaningful business connections. Period.

If you do join, just remember to cap the amount of time that you spend there.:)

@ Devon: I only use Facebook for staying connected with family and close friends. As for Linked In, I was wndering what all the fuss was about. I am surprised something came about from it (although technically it really didn't...)

For me the best way to get started with Twitter is to connect with people as soon as you sign up. For instance, I found lots of bloggers like Problogger, Amy Derby, Men With Pens, SelfMadeChick and others on there and immediately followed. It grew from there. It can be a nice way to promote a blog, website, book or other product.

Lori said...

Thanks for the link love, Kimberly. :)

Facebook is my "hanging with friends only" space. I don't use it for business. Normally I don't mix my friends and family in with work, and that's who I'm connected to there.

Twitter - meh. I'm not sure I'll ever see the value in it, but there was a time (early last week) when I didn't think I'd ever join.

To me, the most value is in LinkedIn. That's completely professional and focused on business professionals. No teenagers there! And I don't see the "popularity ratings" that other sites have. No work from it yet, but the ability to send a client there to see my past client recommendations is worth something.

It's what you said about the popularity contest - it's rampant on all SN sites. I'm sick of it. Plus on Twitter, I've done my first "unfollow." The dude was posting constantly, which is annoying enough. But the killer was when he was literally begging people to re-tweet his posts so he could secure #1 Twitter position. Can we say obsessive? If his posts were even remotely interesting, I'm sure people would have done so. Alas, he was boring and pestering. Buh-bye!

Kimberly Ben said...

Lori,

You've really started something with your osts. I've noticed writers having a similar debate on a couple of forums.

I'm going to put more effort into my Linked In profile - get some recommendations on there.

I agree with you about how annoying all of the popularity crap is on many of these site. Amy Derby was cracking me up one day when someone on Twitter referred to themselves as "Internet famous." Lol - that takes the cake. I try to ignore all of that stuff.

Another annoying thing about Twitter is how followers will spam you with their ebooks and other products. Yeah, I'm familiar with that unfollow button...

 
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