Social networking is booming. Blogs are everywhere. Online opportunities keep hitting you every day. What recession, you say? No, this is the time for you to grow your own business on several social networks, it's just that simple.

You go online and join every social network. You make friends. You make great connections. You build a network of thousands and thousands. This is too good to be true. Everyone likes me! I am going to make money this year.

But then it happens: you have no more time to personally respond to every friend request. You start ignoring your inboxes. You do not leave as many comments as before. Then fear creeps in: will I lose my contacts? How do I keep my network growing? Will my business go down? Will people stop liking me?

So, you decide: let me use more technology to help me. Let me send autoresponse emails that do not pay attention to the subjects who are receiving them. Let me cut and paste the same response over and over and over again. Let me hire others to represent me. Let me make no effort to actually try to get to know a little bit about a person.

That choice you make, at first, looks easy enough, but I will appeal that in the end, going fully automated and automatic will only hurt your business in the social network world. You become unsocial. And that contradicts why social networks are developed in the first place.

Why does being 100% automatic hurt you in a social network? Here are my reasons:

1. You stop listening to people. When you start autoresponding EVERYTHING, you are basically saying that you just do not care. You are not taking the time to get to know someone. In essence, you just ignore that individual and what that persons represent.

2. You lose focus. If you feel that ALL that you are doing is going to social networks, then it is probably a good sign that you are losing focus on your main goal: which is to grow your business. Treat social networks as places to meet people and network, but not to sell things. Many people have said this, but it is worth repeating: when you say hi to someone in person, do you just jump in with a sales pitch? Why would behaving this way on a social network be different?

3. You rarely only on technology and not on you. This is a pretty simple point: in order to succeed in what you do, you MUST connect with people. Technology will never replace that human connection. In fact, I think 2009 will be the year when people will hunger for human connections more than ever. Remember, the last time I checked, the Internet was created by humans. Technology alone will never close deals for you or earn you money. YOU are the one who does this.

Do not get me wrong: when I introduce myself to new people, I use a fairly basic welcome message. But I worked hard in writing that specific introduction and after I do that first intro, everything I write or post on a network is not 100% automatically responded. If you disagree with this, I commend you and wish you the best of luck with it. But I guarantee, at some point, getting the same message over and over again by the same person will only damage that person's reputation.

So, have fun. Be a good friend to people. Do not pressure others. Ease into it. Work the room, but have a great time doing it and if you get autoresponse messages that do not seem to you or what you do, delete it. Take a stand. You will be glad you did.

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