which social media network is right for my businessSocial networks are a hot topic. With over 70% of consumers using online resources to find what they are looking for, it makes sense to step up your online presence. Many business owners have a website, an email address, and may have even started blogging. Networking is an important step to opening up your true professional potential.

Which site should I use?
What is the goal or problem you are trying to solve? The answer to this question may even mean that you completely change which social networks you take a look at. It may make more sense to create your own social media site or network (check back later for information on how to build your own social network). But for those of you interested in joining the pre-existing ones, here are a few of the more popular SNS, to serve your business well:

Social-Media/Social-Bookmarking Sites

  1. Reddit - Upload stories and articles on reddit to drive traffic to your site or blog. Submit items often so that you'll gain a more loyal following and increase your presence on the site.
  2. Digg - Digg has a huge following online because of its optimum usability. Visitors can submit and browse articles in categories like technology, business, entertainment, sports and more.
  3. Del.icio.us - Social bookmark your way to better business with sites like del.icio.us, which invite users to organize and publicize interesting items through tagging and networking.
  4. Technorati - If you want to increase your blog's readership, consider registering it with Technorati, a network of blogs and writers that lists top stories in categories like Business, Entertainment and Technology.
  5. WikiHow - Create a how-to guide or tutorial on wikiHow to share your company's services with the public for free.

Professional-Networking Sites

  1. LinkedIn - LinkedIn is a popular networking site where alumni, business associates, recent graduates and other professionals connect online.
  2. Facebook - Facebook is no longer just for college kids who want to post their party pics. Businesses vie for advertising opportunities, event promotion and more on this social-networking site.
  3. Xing - An account with networking site Xing can open doors to thousands of companies. Use the professional contact manager to organize your new friends and colleagues, and take advantage of the Business Accelerator application to find experts at the click of a button. Market yourself in a professional context and open up new sales channels.
  4. Networking For Professionals - Networking For Professionals is another online community that combines the Internet with special events in the real world. Post photos, videos, résumés and clips on your online profile while you meet new business contacts.
  5. Ecademy - Ecademy prides itself on "connecting business people" through its online network, blog and message-board chats, as well as its premier BlackStar membership program, which awards exclusive benefits.

Set up your profile
Communicating works better when you have a good idea who it is you're talking to. Make it a point to add logos, company information, a bio or “about me” piece that identifies what your company does. Remember, social networking requires dedication. Most people set up a profile and then forget to go back to the site, to add friends, or to make use of it at all. Social networks are effective when you utilize them to the fullest. Your first objective in making your profile work for your business is to add friends; this virtual intro may take a little time but is well worth it if you are looking to grow your network. The second order of business is to use the site as your marketing resource. You should be active in posting blogs, commenting on profiles, and advertising your business.

Now that you know which sites to use, and understand what to do once you set up your site, keep in mind, that if you just jump into an established community with messages about how great you are, it can have exactly the opposite effect of what you’re saying. People inherently trust their peers more than messages from companies, so you’ll need to take the time to understand the community and the people who frequent it.