However, it is SO easy to twiddle your time away online chatting on various sites, so what is the balance and how do you manage it? I have a couple of thoughts for you to ponder:
1) Anywhere you post online, if used correctly by using links to your shop and your shop name, will add to your SEO factor and make your business easier to be found.
2) There is strength found in networking with people who are your target customer market.
3) Networking can create a great support group for you and your business.
There are a couple of types of networking - social and business. Then, they breakdown into handmade, corporate business, and a zillion other categories.
I suggest that the handmade online sellers participate in both handmade networks AND regular business networks to find potential customers everywhere.
Realize that the handmade networks are made up of a lot of sellers like you. However, sellers of handmade are also buyers of handmade for products other than what they make.
Business networks are made up of businesses of all kinds, big and small, and may need to be educated on why buying handmade creates value. You can be the voice for the handmade community.
I am a member of about 15-20 social and professional networking sites. It could make my head swim if I fretted about nurturing all of those! Here is a plan:
**Keep your profiles on ALL networking sites up-to-date and visit them frequently. Even a teeny edit will bump your profile up for the search engines to find again. If you don't do this, it will just lay there gasping its last breath.
**Make a list of all of your online networks. Decide which ones you want to participate in. Decide on your weekly time allowance split between all you selected, and stick to it.
**You can visit your profiles and edit one a day if you have a lot of them. That takes 3 minutes each and just keep the rotation going. You can do that to boost your SEO.
Here are some networking sites to look into:
HANDMADE Networking Sites
http://www.ning.com/search/networks?q=handmade - LIST of many
BUSINESS Networking Sites:
http://www.linkedin.com/ http://wozone.ning.com/ (Website Owners' Zone)
http://www.ning.com/search/networks?q=women+business - list of sites for business women
http://www.ning.com/search/networks?q=business - list of networking for businesses
http://www.ning.com/search/networks?q=small+business - list of networking for small businesses
http://www.ning.com/search/networks?q=home+business - list of networking for home businesses
And, don't forget your local online business networking sites. I belong to
http://www.wqmagonline.com/ and http://www.local-shops-1.com/LocalShops1/social-network.html that cover Regional Florida and I have made some great contacts!
If you have a great networking source for online sellers, post here and I will add to the list!