In addition to the community guidelines and code of conduct enforced by Yahoo! for the Yahoo! Answers segment, it’s important to understand the basics of online social networking as you start to branch out. From blogging to article writing, you need to make sure you are looking for ways to promote yourself in a positive way. It will not serve you well to ignore community guidelines on other discussion forums, or not stay up to date on the requirements of participation. Make sure you review the terms and conditions for participation before setting up your profile on multiple sites. You can lose credibility instantly by ignoring the community’s basic rules, and it can be much more difficult to earn your respect back in the strongest web communities.
Online social networking offers considerable potential for building trust with your target market, and you can enlist in a variety of different channels to explore and search. You might already be accustomed to the networks on Facebook or MySpace, and Ryze is another social networking opportunity that invites ‘Friends’ to participate in each independent network. Professional businesses can take advantage of these social networks as long as they do not make mistakes that compromise their brand image. It’s important to understand how to partner up with common-interest networks so you are not joining incompatible lists and wasting time pitching to people that will never visit your website.
Common interest groups are a great way to get started, and you can start to recruit your own friends and members list relatively easily. Making the most of features on the site will help you network better, and even sending and receiving private messages once in a while will help reinforce these connections. Keep your correspondence professional and simple, and avoid becoming involved with ‘gossip’ and other messages that can put you in a compromising situation.
Make sure your e-mail address and website information are readily available; this means taking the time to update your profile page, and signing other people’s guest books with a signature file and other relevant contact information. This is not only good etiquette, but also provides easy access to your company, business, or message!