When a Facebook buddy invited me to Netlog I was delighted because I thought I could use it to promote my business. Actually, it turned out to be a perve-pit full of desperate middle-aged men trying it on with me so I deleted my account. This is what I've learned.
1. Focus check
So you've been invited to a social networking site. All excited, you upload your details and some pictures of your work. You've already got a friend there, so it's only a matter of time before you acquire more. Hopefully this will lead to some work coming your way, won't it? Ah, but you missed the "Dating" button in the navigation bar and the pictures of young ladies in sweet'n'sexy poses, didn't you? And that's why the pervs came stampeding towards you with declarations of love, lust, and desperation. Before you register with a new networking site, take a good long look at it to get a feel for the kind of people who use it. If it seems to be mostly trivial and/or pervy, get out of there unless you like that kind of thing.
2. Updating data
If you register with many social networking sites, you may forget to update your information, leaving potential clients with little or no relevant information about you. Keep a record of which ones you're with (easy if you have their badges or links to them on your website) so you remember to update your profile as and when required.
It's a bit of a bind to have to update your status on those networking sites you're a member of. The good news is, they usually have apps that link to either Facebook or Twitter to post or receive updates. On Facebook, I recommend Network Blogs and RSS Wallpaper. They will update your Twitter account, and if you link that to your account on Linked In, your tweets will appear there.
There's a plethora of apps, and honestly, you don't need them all. Having too many apps or sections on your landing page can crowd out all the relevant information. It's good to keep a list of examples of your work and have a gallery to display your work, but keep descriptions short and sweet, and only use the ones you need.
5. Friends and followers
Think quality rather than quantity. I follow clients as a matter of course, but also seek out professionals to assoociate with (and occasionally partner with) to boost your reputation. Get recommendations if you can. The thing is, if you and your friends are registered on more than one social networking site, they might not want to give you more than one recommendation. I got around that by making a testimonials page and linking the recommendations on it. Never friend or follow someone just to get your numbers up. It doesn't work because you get buried beneath a ton of other friends and followers and can't network properly because you're hard to find. Quality friends and followers will interact with you instead of using you to make themselves look more popular.
I hope you found that useful. Feel free to comment. I'd love to hear from you.