In the current economic climate, if you’re an entrepreneur or simply a business person, you have probably been urged to start networking and using social media in order to enhance the success of your business.

If you are nervous about commencing these types of activities, be assured that they are nothing to fear. If you can carry on a conversation or write a few intelligible sentences, you can quickly become an expert and become a networking king or queen!

Utilizing networking and social media are simply two avenues that can afford you the opportunity to build relationships with prospective clients.

And there’s the key word: RELATIONSHIP, which is a state of being connected or being in a state where sharing of the life events of the participants takes place.

In fact, Webster provides a similar definition for networking, which it says is a supportive system of sharing, and for social media, which it says is a form of electronic communication through which users create online communities to share information.

It’s actually pretty straightforward. If you are connected to others, you share your story. Through these stories, you let your prospective clients learn about the values you hold, your interests, and your goals and dreams. This allows you to become a “real” person rather than just another salesperson.

When others are interested in YOU and your story, this encourages positive feelings to build. With commonality and likeability as a foundation, relationships that start off as professional ones can very often be transformed into friendships. And building true friendships will enhance both your personal and professional life.

Moreover, your contacts, who have learned to trust and like you, will start touting you to their contacts and so on. And that is how word-of-mouth and referral business begins and grows.

This principle is at the heart of the usage of networking and social media for business purposes. Through these two venues, you are afforded the opportunity to be exposed to and connect to an enormous amount of people, which can allow you to expand your reach to global proportions.

At the inception of your efforts, this may seem to be an unattainable or difficult goal to reach. Be confident that it is not! A lot of it simply involves common sense and being authentic as you present your best side.

However, as with all endeavors, I always say, “If you want to be terrific, you need to be specific!”

What that means is it is imperative to construct an Action (or a Business) Plan before jumping into the fray. All successful undertakings are built upon a strong base, and this takes time and energy to prepare and build properly.

Preparation, or enabling yourself for success, can be accomplished in many ways, for example, by reading books and articles, attending seminars, finding a mentor, conferring with a professional, or joining like-minded groups. But these activities are not enough.

As Anton Chekhov said, “Knowledge is of no value unless you put it into practice.”

That said, take what you’ve learned and start the process without letting yourself be overwhelmed with the myriad of opportunities in front of you. At the beginning of your efforts, narrow your focus and concentrate on one or two venues. Become proficient and then add in another activity.

Always keep in mind that although networking and using social media are great ways to find new business, they can become all-encompassing and rob you of the needed time to actually attend to the nuts and bolts of your business. Just as it is important to seek balance in your personal relationships, you must also find the correct balance of activities that will bring you professional success.

Author's Bio: 

Ellen Gerst is a Relationship Coach, author and workshop leader. Recently, she has penned "Understanding Networking and Social Media for Entrepreneurs From A to Z." Written from the perspective of a relationship coach, in a concise and easy-to-read format, she introduces 26 concepts and venues, from A to Z, to lead the way through the maze of marketing opportunities available.