Social networking sites originally became popular as a way for friends to stay in touch with one another and to keep up-to-date with what was happening in their lives, but they quickly became a place for business owners to grow their networks too. These days you can use these sites as a business building tool, but, more importantly, you can get to know your prospects, clients, and colleagues in a more relaxed and friendly environment.

This means that if you’re active on these sites and regularly contributing and seeking out new connections you can very quickly build your network and have a ready audience of contacts who are interested in what you have to say, your services, programs, and products.

However, I hear of many solopreneurs saying that they’re spending hours of time on their social networking activities, whether that’s on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, or one of the other popular social networking sites, but are not seeing any benefits as a result of their time i.e. the amount of time they put into social networking is not comparable to the returns they are seeing. And so they lose interest and wonder what all the fuss is about.

As with any of the list building strategies that I teach, the real key to success is consistency. If you decide that social networking is one of the lead generation strategies that you want to implement then you need to be consistent in your approach to make it successful. You need to be spending time each week (several times a week) visiting each of your social networks, contributing, and building relationships.

Even though there are many, many advantages to this latest marketing strategy, there are several pitfalls that can easily be avoided if you’re aware of what they are.

Today I’d like to share with you my top four social networking pitfalls so that you can avoid making these mistakes and so utilize this strategy to grow your network:

1. Not updating regularly. If you’re a beginner in this area, then you may believe that all you have to do is sign up for an account at one of the more popular sites, add your details, and you’re all set. In order for this strategy to be effective, you need to be a regular contributor to the network, actively seek out new connections, and participate and post regularly.

2. Your profile is lacking in information. Add pictures; make yourself sound interesting and fun! People want to know about you, what your interests are, and see you. Always include a photo, and, the beauty with social networking is that because it’s informal, you don’t always need your photo to be a professional head shot – a more informal photo works just as well; let your contacts see the ‘real’ you.

3. Not thinking relationships first! Social networking is all about building relationships with those people in your network – it’s not about getting new clients. Although you’ve probably heard of colleagues getting new clients via social networking, it really is about creating and building relationships with those people in your network. Remember… relationships first!

4. It’s not about sell, sell, sell! If all you’re doing when you visit the various sites and post your updates is pitch your latest program, product or service then it’s no wonder you’re not seeing results. Share information with your network, whether that’s your own information or you’re passing along information from clients and colleagues. The more you share, the greater your results will be.

Whichever social networking arena you’re active in (and it may be more than one) remember the “social” in social networking – it’s to build relationships, make new contacts, and socialize. Inform your network, not sell to them.

(c) 2009 Tracey Lawton

Author's Bio: 

Office organization expert, Tracey Lawton, teaches professional speakers, coaches, and authors how to create the essential online marketing and office organization systems needed to operate an efficient, organized, and profitable business. Learn how YOU can create an efficient and organized office in 7 EASY steps, and receive free how-to articles at