Online networking for professional and personal development

More than 500 million people are now signed up for Facebook and 175 million for Twitter, proving the popularity and potential value of social media. You are most likely already a member of several such sites, but are you maximizing your social networks to enhance your own professional and personal development? Here are five sites where you can begin building your own personal e-brand.

Google

You could start by registering your Google account and assembling a Google Profile containing personal and professional information as well as links to your Web site. Google Buzz is connected to your Gmail account and is a tab in your Google Profile. It allows you to send messages to your current Gmail address book and expanded network and syndicate your other social feeds. Consider writing a blog, which can be a personal one or a business one detailing what you do at your work or a combination of the two.

MyBlogLog

Many blogs are powered with MyBlogLog widgets, showcasing avatars of your recent visitors. As people join your blog network, you can notify them of newly created blog posts or major events through the MyBlogLog messaging system.

LinkedIn

A professional social network site is LinkedIn with millions of active users making professional contacts. Each user profile can be personalized to feature recommendations from colleagues, a self-portrait, relevant links, and special interest groups.

Ning

Another social networking site is Ning, which allows you to launch, invite, and facilitate your own free social network in minutes. Your network can be on the topic of your choice, such as career services.

And of course…

Facebook is the dominant network, giving you free access to events, groups, and profile pages from around the world. Facebook allows users to fuse their personal and professional lives together. Remember to set privacy controls as it is an open platform where your coworkers as well as your friends can access your information.

Whatever social network you choose, you’ll quickly be building professional and personal contacts to advance your career.

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