What are you doing? How are you using social networks to further your career? Do you have a goal? Are you a hoarder or a networker? If you're a networker, why aren't you spending more time networking?
Those are all questions that begged to be answered, questions that when answered will give you tremendous insight into what you are doing both right and wrong. It's time that you take a different look at why social networking is important. What I do mean by a different look?
You're a salesperson. We all are. You're in the business of selling yourself. You're selling each time you tell your spouse why you want to go to a specific restaurant or movie. You sell yourself when you create good content or apply for a job. You are in the business of sales, we all are.
In the online world it's imperative that you think this way at all times because you never know who might be looking. Maybe it will be your next employer, a new client, or somebody who would like to send you a referral... or two. It's imperative though that when selling yourself that you don't think in terms of me, me, me; instead, think in terms of them, them, them.
Think about how you can add value to others. How you can help them overcome some obstacle in their day-to-day lives. Write good content, share good content, build win-win relationships, give, give, give!
Remember, when selling yourself, that it's not really about you, it's about them. Strange way to think about selling, because in sales you are always thinking about how you can sell your product, but when you're the product, always think in terms of how you can elevate the lives of others. By putting the lives of others first they will, in return, reciprocate whenever possible by sharing your content, hiring you, or sending you referral. That's how brand ambassadors are made.
Take a close look at your online persona. What does it say? Ask a trusted friend or colleague to take a look for you and have them give you their honest opinion. Better yet, survey your audience. Ask your friends on Facebook, your connections on LinkedIn, your followers on Twitter, or your circles on Google+. What are they seeing? Is it what you thought it would be?
Always keep it in mind that you don't own your brand (Just ask Coke about New Coke and Gap about their logo change), it's owned by the people. They decide what you're brand really means, so ask them what they think. Yes, you can help to shape the brand, but ultimately its the message received not the message given that will dictate the real meaning of your brand.
If You're Not Growing Your Shrinking
People know to stay away from stagnate water, who knows what bacteria may be growing in it. The same is true about your online persona, people will stay away from you if your stagnant. Quick personal example: I'm a pretty avid blogger but once, about a year ago, I went a month or so without blogging. My social mention software found a comment from a person asking the community if they should contact me about doing some work for them but felt unsure because I hadn't blogged in over a month. They went on to say that they wanted my help to start a corporate blog but felt hesitant because I was stagnant. They worried that I didn't get it.
Moral? If you're not growing, you are shrinking, or are at least stagnant. Engage every day, create as much content as possible and share as much relevant information as you can. You're an entrepreneur, just like with sales, we're all entrepreneurs. We're entrepreneurs of ourselves, get started and go sell yourself.