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10 Steps to Put Social Networking Under Your Spell

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Today's guest post is from content maven Meryl Evans. She helps
businesses build and maintain relationships with clients and prospects
through content. She’s also a long-time blogger who started blogging on
June 1, 2000.
Follow Meryl on Twitter.

Do you scream for help in removing the spell that social networking
has cast over you? Do social network sites like Twitter, Facebook,
LinkedIn, and YouTube hypnotize you for hours, stealing your magical
paid work time?

Social networking may affect more people in our industry because we know writing can be a lonely job, especially those
doing it on a freelance basis from a home office. Even introverts
desire to connect with someone and the Twitters of the Internet enchant
us.

Here are some easy clues that signify you're bewitched, bothered, and bewildered by social networking:

  • You press "get new e-mail messages" constantly.
  • You're always looking for @yourname Twitter replies.
  • You check for wall updates on Facebook.
  • You watch the latest viral video on YouTube.

Many
folks (me included) are guilty of these behaviors even though we have
loads of work. Our work doesn't fulfill our human need for connection.
Social networking can and does for many of us.

Look all you
want, but you won't find a magical overnight cure. Instead, call upon
common sense, organization, and getting things done (GTD) thinking.
These strategies will help you dip into the social networking cauldron
without double double, toil and trouble—or tracking down eye of newt
and wool of bat.

  1. Accept that you can't keep up with all of the
    social networking sites.
    You're not the only one struggling with this.
    It's OK not to join or use everything. (See #8.)
  2. Post a profile on
    major social networking sites.
    You don't have to do it all at once.
    Notice I've said "major" sites.
  3. Connect your accounts
    with other sites.
    For example, LinkedIn has an application that imports
    your blog entries into LinkedIn. Facebook has the same and can also
    import your Twitter feed (may not be a good idea, but that's not in
    this recipe). FriendFeed is a pro at integrating your account with
    others.
  4. Pick a few sites to use on a regular basis. Remember writing and reading blogs count.
  5. Schedule your participation. Twitter isn't about posting one tweet
    after another. You could start with five minutes in the morning, again
    at lunch time, and do a last check in the evening. Whatever works for
    you. Routine turns things into a habit.
  6. Turn off e-mail
    notifications.
    For sites you don't use regularly, turn off your e-mail
    notifications so they don't drive you crazy. (See #7 for another
    option.)
  7. Filter all social media e-mail into a single folder.
    If you still want to receive e-mails knowing when someone connects with
    you, then set up e-mail filters to send all messages from Facebook,
    Twitter, LinkedIn, and so on into one folder. It's less bothersome than
    messages in your inbox and in your face.
  8. Join other networks
    as you come across them.
    Your connections will invite you to yet
    another social network site. You never know who uses one site more than another, and you never know what the next big thing in social networking will be
    unless you have a crystal ball and an available medium. Be open.
  9. Do
    social networking when stuck.
    Social networking is a marketing tool for
    writers, therefore it should be a no-guilt activity as long as you
    focus on building relationships and sharing knowledge.
  10. Close
    the browser or application.
    Get off the social network site or related
    application. Don't leave it open. Douse whatever tempts you.

This
10-step recipe will put you in charge of
stirring bubbles of your social networking time. And be vigilant: networks
can still charm their way back and cause time management trouble.

Photo credit: Steph Gary Evie Jack and Thomas

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