If you’re promoting yourself as a writer, then you can’t ignore social networking. The question is where to start and which sites to choose. I am not going to pretend that I could ever answer this question to everyone’s satisfaction, so instead I’ll tell you about the sites I use and how I use them.
Many of the social bookmarking sites allow you to add friends, to join groups and to interact with others who share your interests. I have done this on Digg and StumbleUpon, though I haven’t done much on some of the other sites I use. If you participate in the social side, then eventually your friends and fans will help to promote you (you have to help to promote them too).
When you approach networking online, there are many options. I use LinkedIn for business networking. I don’t post status updates often, but I have a profile, resume and recommendations so that potential clients can check me out. If you are running a writing business, then don’t ignore LinkedIn. High-end clients may well use it to find you.
I also have a Facebook profile. Facebook works on the premise that the people you add will really be friends, and that’s mostly true of my profile. I don’t use it heavily, but I occasionally share a link with my friends, which they may then share with theirs. Some people use Facebook aggressively, but I take a more hands-off approach.
At the moment, the big buzz is in microblogging. Check out microblogging services such as Twitter, Plurk, Pownce, Jaiku and others where you can connect with the blogosphere and also share your stuff. Take the time to fill out your profile, brand your page or make it look interesting, and share content that you think is good. Join in the conversation and you will soon build up a fan base and a network of friends.
Some people spend a couple of hours promoting themselves through social media. I don’t have that much time, so I help myself with some useful tools. If’ I’ve written a post that I want to add to the social bookmarking sites, I use Onlywire to submit to several sites at once. I use the StumbleUpon toolbar for quick stumbling of others’ content. I participate in conversations on Twitter and Plurk (you can use Ping.FM to send status updates to several services at once. I know that people have found my site this way. I’ve also made connections with people who offer work. That’s how I know that promoting with social networking really works – and it’s fun too.