Editor's Note: Christian sword swallower Dan Meyer, who has been competing this summer on "America's Got Talent," has set up the most comprehensive online social network I have seen. When I was working on my book How to Promote Your Book on a Shoestring Budget, I asked Dan to share his top tips on social networking. I was expecting a top-ten list. What I got was the following excellent article! Dan's edited-down top-ten list will also be included in the book.
Dan's Tips on Social Networking
Remember when we used to read full-length books like "Homer" or "War and Peace"? (Nope? Ok… neither do I!) Or how about more like "Huckleberry Finn", "Swiss Family Robinson", "Treasure Island", or even the "Hardy Boys" or "Nancy Drew" mysteries?
Remember when we used to wait with bated breath to read the daily newspaper from cover to cover or to peruse the glossy magazines like Life, Look, and National Geographics each month?
Remember when we used to write out handwritten letters in longhand, address an envelope, stick a stamp on it, and drop it in the corner mailbox to keep in touch with family, friends, or pen pals overseas?
That was a chapter written long ago in our lives that is now finished. Time to turn another page…
In our fast-paced society today, many people don't have the time to sit down and read a full length book over a period of several days. Today people barely have time for the Reader’s Digest version or even a quick glance at Cliff Notes. Like many others today I barely have time to take in a full story in a 100 minute movie in a theater or on DVD, check the international, national and local news and weather online, grab the interesting headline stories on AOL, CNN, FOX, Yahoo, or whatever page I happen to be surfing at the moment, and shoot off a few quick e-mails and IMs.
They say a picture paints a thousand words. If that's the case, then social networking websites with their images, albums, music, videos, bulletins, blogs, microblogs, plurks and tweets literally speak volumes...
With our attention spans being constantly shortened to commercials that have dwindled from 1 minute down to :20, :10, or now even 2 second sound bytes, it is no surprise that our online viewing habits and networking have followed suit.
Enter social networking, blogs, and micro-blogs.
Of course, nearly everyone who is familiar with the Internet has heard of MySpace (http://www.myspace.com). With the ability to post blogs, bulletins, leave private messages, post public comments, listen to music and view videos, MySpace has been the most popular social networking site on the Internet over the past few years.
But some surfers find the content on MySpace somewhat frivolous, others find it a bit tough to navigate, while even others find MySpace difficult to edit and customize. With MySpace attracting a higher number of adolescent kids and earning a reputation for being a more-or-less adolescent vanity site, the winds of change have been blowing on the fast-paced high-tech social networking scene.
Close on the heels of MySpace for social networking, Facebook (http://www.facebook.com) is one of the more popular networking sites on the Internet today. With a cleaner interface and lots of third party add-on applications, groups, events, and lots of other ways of connecting with old and new friends, Facebook has become one of the most popular sites for networking on the Internet today.
Other popular free social networking sites on the Internet include Bebo (http://www.bebo.com), BrightKite (http://brightkite.com ), Hi5 (http://hi5.com), Jaiku (http://jaiku.com ), Mashable (http://mashable.com ), Plurk, (http://plurk.com), Pownce (http://pownce.com), Tumblr (http://www.tumblr.com), Xanga (http://www.xanga.com), and many more.
Christian Social Networking
For a Christian networking alternate to MySpace and Facebook, try ChristianSpace (http://www.christianspace.com ), Xianz (http://www.xianz.com), and ZoeCity (http://zoecity.com). And if you're interested in a Christian alternative to YouTube, try checking out the Christian videos on GodTube (http://www.Godtube.com )
If you're looking for more serious ways of networking professionally, try Linkedin (http://www.linkedin.com ) This is a no-frills network for professionals similar to an online address book, but with the added benefit that it allows you to view and reach other contacts in your LinkedIn contacts’ address books. Another similar site that began early on as an online address book and continues to function as a professional contact site is Plaxo (http://www.plaxo.com). Yet another emerging networking site for professionals to consider is Perfect Networker (http://www.perfectnetworker.com).
And while we’re discussing professional networking, you might want to check out ZoomInfo (http://www.zoominfo.com), a site that compiles information about you from all over the Internet. It’s not a bad idea to check out your ZoomInfo profile to make sure that it is correct and update it with accurate information about you!
Blogs, blogs and micro-blogs
What used to be known as “journaling” our thoughts and activities in a daily journal is now known as “blogging” or “logging your thoughts on ‘web-logs’ ”, conveniently shortened to “blogs”). If you like blogging (or just reading others’ blogs), check out Google's Blogger (http://www.blogger.com) or Blogspot (http://www.blogspot.com ), LiveJournal (http://www.livejournal.com ) or WordPress (http://www.wordpress.com). Still sound too time-consuming for you? Time to turn yet another page…
With the micro-blog emerging as one of the hottest and most popular trends on the Internet today, it’s no wonder that sites like Twitter have taken off (http://twitter.com ). A cross between a full blog and the immediacy of an IM (Instant Message), Twitter's "Tweets" let all your "followers" know what you're doing immediately and in 140 characters of text or less. This is a great way for artists to reach their fans, for companies to communicate with their markets, and for friends and family to keep in touch on a constant basis throughout the day. Twitter is by far the most popular micro-blogging site, but Plurk (http://plurk.com) follows close behind.
Ring, Ring… Beep, Beep
If you really want to stay on top of everything right up to the second, you can even receive your Twitters as SMS (Short Message Service) on your cell phone, or you can use a variety of Twitter clients on your phone such as TinyTwitter, Twitterific (for Macs), TwitterBerry (for Blackberries), and a growing number of other Twitter client applications to avoid SMS charges.
Another great tip for networking on your cell phone: Try browsing on your phone for the WAP version of your favorite social networking sites by replacing the "www" with the prefix "m" for mobile, such as m.myspace.com, m.facebook.com, m.linkedin.com, m.twitter.com, m.plurk.com.
And if this all seems a bit daunting and time-consuming for you, my favorite tip of all is to create an account at Ping (http://ping.fm) where you can update all the top social networking sites - MySpace, Facebook, Linkedin, Blogspot, LiveJournal, Twitter, Plurk, Bebo, Mashable, Pownce, Tumblr, Xanga, and many others - by sending a quick micro-blog e-mail from your desktop or cell phone to update ALL your accounts AT ONCE! Talk about a time-saver! And Ping only takes a few moments to set up!
And if you really want to make sure you have ALL your bases covered and reach EVERYONE you have ever known in any chapter of your life, you can set up accounts with ALL of the above networking services! But if you start getting writer’s cramp, just realize that in the time it takes to get them all set up, you could have probably read "War and Peace" and written your own best-seller!
Time to curl up with a good blog…
--Dan Meyer is a Christian Sword Swallower, speaker and author living in Hartselle, AL when he is not performing around the world, checking e-mail on his Blackberry, or maintaining social networking sites. Dan can be reached at www.cuttingedgeinnertainment.com. You can follow Dan on Twitter or link to him through any of the following sites:
http://www.myspace.com/dan_meyer (MySpace HD)
http://www.myspace.com/cuttingedgeinnertainment (MySpace CEI)
http://www.myspace.com/capncutless (MySpace Capn Cutless)
http://www.myspace.com/dansgottalent (MySpace Fan page)
http://halfdan.myplaxo.com (Plaxo Pulse)
http://www.zoominfo.com/people/Meyer_Dan_-360839.aspx (Zoom Info)
http://www.flickr.com/people/halfdan5/ (Flikr Profile)
http://www.flickr.com/photos/halfdan5/ (Flikr Photostream)
http://www.youtube.com/user/Halfdan5 (YouTube Channel)
http://www.metacafe.com/channels/Halfdan (MetaCafe Channel)
http://www.spike.com/profile/Halfdan (Spike IFilm.com Channel)
http://christianspace.com/ (Christian Space)
http://www.reachyourcity.com/ministryevent.php?ministry=38 (Reach Your City)
http://endorsedministry.com/index.php?template=viewmin&id=Halfdan (Endorsed Ministry)
http://www.indiecommunity.com/danmeyer.htm (Indie Community)
http://www.nashvillespeakers.com/espeakers/10234/DanMeyer.html (Nashville Speakers Bureau)
http://www.fantastictalent.com/profile/Halfdan (Fantastic Talent)
http://www.reverbnation.com/fan_reach/artist_123532 (FanReach Newsletter mailing list)
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Halfdans_Happenings (Yahoo Newsletter mailing list)
http://community.guinnessworldrecords.com/Halfdan (Guinness World Records page)
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