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Building a social networking reputation: 4 golden rules

In my blog post Why social networking groups fail, I wrote about four rules a group moderator should follow to facilitate engagement and provide greater benefits to members:
1. Provide structure and focus. 2. Support and nurture. 3. Share the gardening duties.
4. Continuity is king.
But what about you, are you effective as a group member on any of your Facebook, LinkedIn, Biznik, Xing or other groups?

Have you succeeded in building your reputation through these networks?

If you want to know more, we outline four tips that will help improve your experience below.
Tip 1 - Be a good listener
With all the chatter on various social media channels and other noise, we may no longer grasp the meaning of what is being said or written.

Listening means that we read the responses to questions we pose in forums, instead of abandoning them like orphans due to lack of time to read responses, or worse, not expending the energy to compose a thoughtful reply.

Successful social networkers make the time to monitor groups of which they are members to stay informed. We all want people to listen when we talk and acknowledge the intelligent things we have to say. But do we listen in return?

My advice: In order to participate successfully, it is necessary to spend time reading about group activities on a daily basis. Failing to do so results in failing to reach the first milestone to making group membership beneficial.
Tip 2 - Be an active listener
Reading other people's contribution carefully is a first step to becoming an effective group member. But people want to be acknowledged for their thoughts and insights left on various forums or discussion threads in a group.

Image - graphic - US poster - And so, my fellow group members: ask not what your group can do for you, ask what you can do for your group - Xing, LinkedIn, Facebook groups.Accordingly, responding to a comment someone left in response to a question you posted is wise.

Successful networkers manage their memberships in virtual groups on social networks in such a way that they can spare the time to participate in discussions. Participation can happen in many ways but it requires responding to replies posted to one's question or replying to other people's questions.

Participating also means visibility, but as importantly, it gives others an opportunity to develop some level of trust in the quality, depth and tone of your responses.

My advice: Active listening means one regularly contributes by writing a comment to other people's questions and contributions or threads started in a group.

See also ComMetrics - Engaging comments: Where is the beef?
Tip 3 - Make sure others feel comfortable
Commenting and contributing your insights puts you in front of an audience. This allows members to get to know you better as a first step toward increasing trust. It also means gaining recognition and improving one's reputation as a member of the community. But more is needed.

For instance, Queen Victoria is famously said to have drunk the water in her finger bowl. She had no choice: her guest, the Shah of Persia, did so first.

"Correct etiquette, also known as good manners, is all about making ...." People must feel wanted and appreciated to open up and engage.

In turn, engagement champions are the people that welcome others as new members, write a response when nobody dares to or provide support in many other ways such as taking a phone call and giving free advice if asked.

My advice: Make a special effort to ensure other group members feel appreciated and comfortable. Acknowledge other people's contributions by replying to their comments and keeping them engaged.

See also ComMetrics - Making sure the source is trustworthy: Facebook, Twitt...
Tip 4 - Be sure to keep your contenance
C'est le ton quit fait la musique, is a nice, French way of saying, it is not what you say, but how you say it. Finding the right tone while never losing one's temper while responding in writing is a true challenge.

Ensuring someone does not feel they are being talked down to or misunderstood is something that effective group members seem to master better than most of us.

My advice: Successful networkers make an effort to stay polite and give others a chance to appreciate, if not like, them.

Following the above suggestions and exhibiting similar characteristics in our networking lives means being liked, and if you are liked you can be more effective.
1. Out of nothing comes nothing: Participating means posting an answer to somebody's question or adding your thoughts to their comment. In turn, people recognize you, read your input, start trusting your assessments and, as importantly, provide you with feedback and additional insights by commenting on your stuff.
2. A fine red wine takes a few years to mature: Being acknowledged or recognized as an expert in a group will take time. So you need to contribute twice a week on different days for several months before thinking about reaping the rewards. By the way, if twice weekly is too much, prune your group memberships now.
What is your take? How do you see these issues? Have you tried to apply any of these approaches for your group memberships? Worked, failed – share, please! Please let us know in the comments!

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Article source: ComMetrics – Building a social networking reputation: 4 golden rules

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