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It’s no secret. Social Networking sites have seen an explosion of popularity over the last year.

Again, there is nothing new about networking as a means to grow your business. This is exactly why people join the local Chamber of Commerce and similar organizations.

But the fact that the practice is now becoming so popular on the Web is really exciting. It represents a shifting in the way Internet users think, and a change in the way people are going to be finding what they are looking for in the years ahead.

When is the last time you searched for something on one of the major search engines and ended up extremely frustrated with all of the irrelevant results? It happens to me a lot.

But with some of the Web 2.0 sites – social bookmarking sites for instance – a user can search a topic and find results based on how many other members have tagged (or voted for) a particular website. So instead of relying on faulty software algorithms to return search results, Web 2.0 interfaces are now giving us a glimpse of what it would be like if our Web searches were based more on the human element.

Also, social networking sites are easy to use and understand, even for people who are not highly web savvy. Anyone can join MySpace and set up a profile. For this reason the number of people who flock to sites like MySpace, YouTube, Facebook, etc. is only going to increase.

As more and more people become involved with the Web 2.0 systems, the number of people you can market to through these systems obviously grows. And you will be able to find an audience for any niche within these cyber communities.

Due to the well established profile system used by Social Networking sites, you can learn a little bit about a prospect before you ever make contact with them. If somebody looks like a good fit for the kind of information or products you are selling, you can simply invite them to be on your friends list so they can get a look at your profile and even follow links back to your website or blog.

Without social networking websites, you would have to find and connect with Internet users one at a time, often in chat rooms, and learn about their interests before deciding if they are a good fit for you. So social networking sites allow you to be more efficient by learning about another Internet user before ever having to make contact with them.

Another one of the many reasons why social networking sites are popular is because many are free to use. In fact, the majority of social networking sites, such as MySpace and Yahoo! 360, are completely free.

Even if a Web 2.0 site is free, they will require that you register your name and contact info (standard account creation protocol) with them. This registration will not only allow you to create your own profile page, but it will also allow you to contact other networking members.

There are a few sites that charge a small fee to join, or offer upgrade options that give more benefits to paying members. If you like a site and believe there is value being offered you should invest in a paid membership, as doing so will encourage the growth of the community.

What is nice about paid online social networking websites is that many can be considered exclusive. Since most Internet users would not want to pay for something that they can get for free, most paid social networking sites are limited on the number of members they have. This may work out to your advantage because it tends to eliminate those who create fake accounts just for the purpose of spamming or flaming other members.

Social networking websites focus on meeting new people. It’s worth pointing out again that networking has been an integral part of business for centuries; the idea of meeting people and forming mutually beneficial relationships did not start with the World Wide Web, but thanks to the immense popularity of Web 2.0 concepts in the mainstream we are entering an era where we can really take our networking to the next level and well beyond.

So What’s In This For You? Why Should You Bother With Web 2.0 Marketing?

Because of the enormous potential audience you can reach through sites like MySpace and Squidoo! It doesn’t matter what your business sells, you will find people who have an interest in your product or service through social networking sites.

The key, of course, is not to come on too strong and start blazing away with your ads right out of the gates. What you should strive to do is:

1. Join some good social sites with large or targeted memberships
2. Set up your profile to let people know exactly who you are and what you’re about
3. Begin to make contacts by joining groups, inviting friends, making posts on the message boards, sending private messages, etc. Get involved and start meeting people who might have an interest in what you have to offer!
4. Build keyword anchored links from high ranked social sites back to your domains and blogs. This is an awesome free way to add punch to your SEO campaigns

Popular Social Networking Websites

While all social networking websites have their own rules and restrictions, many websites operate in a similar way, with the same goals in mind.

Their goals are to allow Internet users to connect with other Internet users, often from all around the world.

There are many websites that are considered “general,” websites. These websites do not really have any particular focus, but there are social networking websites that do have a particular focus. Those focuses often include dating, religion, business, and school.

Here are a couple of suggestions I urge you to bear in mind when creating an account with a social networking site:

Always use your real name!

Think about it. Would you want to buy something from a person you know only as coolguy77?

Not likely. We’re talking about real business networking in this report so please act like a professional when you get out there and you’re results will be far greater.

Always Add Your Photo!

People like to have an image of the person they are meeting and talking with in their minds and a picture is the obvious best way to help with this. And it adds credibility to your cause.

Don’t be one of the people who are too self-conscious or just plain scared to display their picture on the Web. A clear photo of you on your profile page tells the world you are confident about who you are, and it will encourage others to have confidence in you as well.