Freelancers – Engage with the high-value core of your social network.

social media networkingAs freelancers we can all benefit from social media. By connecting with our peers, industry thought-leaders and client prospects, we can grow our reputations, increase our knowledge and expertise, and find new clients.

However, we can also end up spending way too much time on social media sites for very little return.

We have to look at how much time we are spending on social media each day, and make sure that time is being well spent. You need to balance your billable hours against your unbillable hours.

So how should freelancers use social media, with minimal wastage?

The key is to focus primarily on your high-value connections, and more or less ignore your low-value connections.

To get an idea of what I mean by that, you may want to read Ross Mayfield’s 2006 post, Power Law of Participation.

Here is the chart he used in that post.

power law of participation

The point he makes in his post is not the same as the one I am trying to make here. But there is an overlap, and his post and chart do give us an insight into the different levels of engagement that take place within a social network.

If you sell a product for mass consumption, whether it be cameras are pizzas, you’ll probably want to cover the whole spectrum of social media connections. After all, most of us are in the market for cameras and pizzas.

But for us freelancers, only a very narrow vertical within society are ever going to buy our services, or help us in some other meaningful way.

This means we have to be far more targeted in our approach to social media. We are not that interested in everyone who decides to connect with us. Most of them are not true prospects. Nor do they offer us real value in others ways, like the sharing of valuable knowledge or expertise.

In other words, the left side of the chart holds little value for us. But the right side does.

If we focus our time on connecting only with those individuals who offer real value, then we can spend our time more usefully.

If we are very smart, we’ll end up with a tightly-knit, collaborative group of relatively few people, all of whom benefit significantly from the network. As I mentioned, that group might comprise some of your peers, some thought leaders in your area of business, and some past, current and prospective clients.

You’ll never have a perfect network. You’ll always have some low-value participants, and you’ll always miss out on some people you would like to be included.

The point here is not to expect perfection, but to move in that direction.

Above all, don’t be lured by the numbers. A social media following of 10,000 people can be worthless. A carefully focused following of just 50 people can be invaluable.

Related Resources:

My program, How to Make Money as a Social Media Expert

My short Kindle book, Popcorn Content

About the author: Nick Usborne is an online writer, copywriter, author and coach.

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