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This is the first article in a series about why you should create a profile and participate on Google+ (“Google Plus”). This series may consist of one post (that doesn’t make it a series then, does it?) or more, depending on how many reasons I can muster.

Since the social media venue is only about a week old, the community on Google+ is not yet humongous (though today it’s supposed to reach 10 million – Okay that’s pretty darn big, but a far cry from Facebook’s 400 billion!).

As a social media consultant it was important for me to get on G+ as soon as I could and begin assessing it for business use. You may think it’s not possible to have a business presence yet. Google has asked businesses to hold off on creating profiles for their companies, and I recently saw a post stating that they were already cracking down and removing profiles with a business name (unlike Facebook, where thousands, if not millions of businesses get away with violating the Terms of Service by creating a “Profile” that can “friend” others, rather than a business “Page” that is “Liked”)

So,  you may say “Why bother, if my only interest in social media is for boosting my business?” Well, I’ll tell you why you should bother.

Since the pool of participants is still relatively small and the connecting protocol is being made up as we (early adopters) go along, you may have an amazing opportunity as a business professional. At least if you are a marketer or social media specialist. Though I have a feeling what I am experiencing will hold true for other professions if/when they are participating.

As I search for specific people, by typing in the search form or browsing the connections of others, I add them to my circles. I have the choice of adding them to an existing default circle (which are titled “following,” “friends,” “family,” and “acquaintances”) or creating a new custom-named circle. My approach is to add the hot shot well-known marketers and social media gurus to my “following” circle….just as I do on Twitter. It’s likely I will later sift this down into sub-categories but that’s what I am doing for now.

Because this venue is so new and it is almost a combination of Facebook and Twitter, there may be behaviors happening now that will vanish later.

One of those behaviors is that some of these well-known folks have added me (yes me!) to one of their circles. Now that could mean that I’ve been added to a custom circle called “The losers who are following me” or “Think I’ll make her day by adding her to this circle that I will never view,” but I don’t think so. I’m sure I’m not in their “Essential Contacts” circle, but they probably take a gander now and then at the masses who follow them, especially while this is all still new.

I think the social media marketing rock stars are thinking that anyone who is already on G+ is worth adding just because we know enough to jump in as an early adopter. And they want to build their circles and are being generous.

Twitter has the similar quality of giving you the opportunity to connect with highly regarded people in any field. They may not follow you back or respond to the @famousperson messages you Tweet, but you do have the opportunity to “talk to” them publicly that way.

The deal with G+ is that once you add someone to one of your circles you get to see everything they publish – or at least what they publish to the public or to the circle you’re in. AND you get to comment on any of their posts that you see. So guess what? Even though that person may get 87 comments on any one of their public posts, one of them can be yours! And I’d be willing to bet that at least for the next few weeks, that person is going to read most of those comments.

So your name gets in front of them in several ways. First you added them and they get notified that you did. Secondly, if you comment on their posts you potentially get seen by them once again (not to mention being seen by all the others who commented). And if you have something halfway interesting to say, you may even get noticed or responded to in the comment area. And if you turn into a stalking commenter, you’ll at least be a familiar name!

Seriously, though you have the ability to get known. Whether it’s by someone highly regarded in your field or by potential clients or referral sources… still get known. And that’s what social media is all about. And that’s what doing business is all about.

G+ is a big conversation. And if you post thoughtful comments of substance and publish your own content of value, you’ll become known for that. But if you become a pest or just toot your own horn, you’ll become known for that. Your choice.

So jump in. Listen for a while to make sure you “get” what’s going on, so you don’t do more damage than good – then start participating.

Find the people you want to get in front of:

  • valuable connections
  • leaders in your industry
  • mentors and colleagues
  • potential clients
  • potential collaborators
  • referral sources
  • interesting people

Add them to one of your circles.

Then Don’t be shy. Contribute to the conversation. But don’t have an agenda or try to force an outcome. Stay connected and stay open.

And most of all – relax and have some fun.
They call it “social” media for a reason!