What once was a social networking site dedicated to college students soon grew into a site for the public to reconnect with long-lost friends and family. Today, Facebook has transformed into one of the leading internet sites for developing personal and business relationships. Many of the largest, most recognizable businesses and celebrities have Facebook pages that connect them with their fan base and allow them to promote their latest product before it hits the stores. Not to be eaten alive by humongous marketing campaigns many small business owners and network marketers have also taken to Facebook to build a buzz around their product or service. While their intentions are good, many of these businesses however lose a lot of customers by not adhering to simple internet etiquette when setting up their page. Here are a few basic tips to follow when joining Facebook as a professional.
The Profile

Before creating your profile, decide whether your Facebook page will be used strictly for business, or if it will also be used to connect with family members and friends. This is important, as you’ll want to familiarize yourself with a few key privacy settings should you choose to do both. When filling out your profile, make sure you complete it in its entirety. Answer as many questions as you can, but keep in mind that you don’t want to get too personal. As in the workplace, there are just some things that do not need to be said on the internet if you want to be viewed as a serious professional.

Choosing a profile picture should be a careful process. You’ll obviously want something that displays who you are, but as with the information shared you should also consider your target audience. It’s not necessary to purchase professional headshots, however you want to steer clear of pictures that show you chugging a keg, or partying it up for beads at Mardi Grass. Whatever you decide, make sure the picture stands out, but also represents you in the proper light for your business.

The Network

Start with people you know. Friends, family members, former and current co-workers are all good people to add to your friends list. Once added, go through their lists and see who they know. Pick out people who look interesting to you. Think about what image you want to display and try to find profiles that match that image. Though you’ll want to connect with as many people as you can for maximum visibility, steer clear of any relationships that will bring on negativity such as jilted exes, or former friends with a grudge. Remember, these people will be able to post and comment on your profile and pictures. You don’t want a potential client to accidentally read about “the time when you …”

Join groups and pages that relate to your profession. Facebook no longer offers the ability to see all the people who are fans, however by combing through the wall posts, or the first six people displayed in the “Like” section, you can find a wealth of connections by applying the same techniques as you would if adding from one of your friend’s pages.

Making the Connection

After building your network, don’t let it sit. There are lots resources hidden in the friend’s list. Even if that friend is not interested in your product or service, they may know someone who is. Many times people will delete others for lack of contact. Keep yourself visible by commenting on posts, pictures, and other items of interest. It’s not enough to just “Like” a status. Say something clever, or meaningful (depending on the post) that will make you stand out. The more you do it, the more your friends will begin to look for you, and eventually you’ll begin to build a relationship as they post may post on your page as well. Remember, people may think your product is a great, but ultimately they join you. Your influence or lack thereof is the fine line between the success and failure of your network.

Following these basic principles will get you off to a good start in marketing yourself (remember it’s not your business, it’s you) on Facebook. As social networking continues to evolve, many more tips and tricks will be added while others just as with traditional certain marketing techniques will be taken away. Establishing yourself as a professional from the beginning will not only place you, but your product or service as well for success in the social networking arena.