“Embrace the technology” should be the lesson for all aspiring entrepreneurs and it would be a worthwhile inspirational motto for anyone who really wants to build a successful, new-age business. And the technology that cannot be ignored is the one that can deliver you lots of customer and it comes to those who engage with social networking.

Last year, I interviewed Harold Mitchell the founder of Mitchell Communication Group on my Sky News Business Channel program. Mitchell recently sold his listed business for a lot of money to Aegis Group and he insists his company’s success was because he always embraced the new technology of the day.

In his early days in advertising he took on the new technology called TV and he said it put him in the company of the likes of Kerry Packer, who also was embracing the technology. Later he said his most recent success came because he opted to go digital before his rivals and that gave him a competitive advantage.

I guess if you need more convincing then you better rent the film The Social Network – the story of Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook.

The point of the exercise is to build up your online credibility by joining online communities. Social networking is like a networking event taken global with the added convenience of music, videos, pictures and other media to get the point across.

Take part in existing communities on websites such as Facebook by searching for and contributing to relevant groups, such as those concerned with your industry or your region, etc. As people start to value your contribution you start to increase your marketing footprint in cyberspace. But you have to remember, you have to give to get – the old rule of networking applies.

That’s why giving great content that helps and entertains people works to build up your credibility, as well as your following.

Raine & Horne incorporated Facebook into its website – www.rh.com.au – in December 2007. Visitors to the site can send a property listing to their Facebook profile, or to their Facebook friends.

“We find that the people who are sharing are involved in groups with their friends and family,” says Joel Leslie, former manager of national information and e-technology at the company.

“We had one of our suppliers testing Facebook application,” he says. “He clicked it and [the listing] went straight to his profile. His parents, who don’t live in the same state as him, the very next day rang him up saying, ‘You’re moving to Sydney? You didn’t tell us you’re moving to Sydney!’”

Different businesses will have a different process to get the best out of social networking but it will simply require you to think outside the square to make it work for your business.

It all really comes down to increasing communication and promoting the business relationship with existing and potential customers and clients.

The penny dropped for me about how important social networking is when someone who appeared on my television program asked for a link for the program – “so I can send it out to my social network.”

Social networking is growing at a breakneck pace and it really is referral selling. You know, where you ask your clients if they would be happy to recommend you to friends and family? While social networking a business needs to be more subtle than that, it is about the same thing – getting someone to say to a friend: “Look what these guys are doing.”

Without doubt the potential circle of influence via social networking – Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, YouTube, MySpace, etc – is expanding and no business can afford to ignore it.

If you’re looking to work on your business rather than being stuck in it, book in for a complimentary business assessment today with Switzer Business Coaching.

Important information: This content has been prepared without taking account of the objectives, financial situation or needs of any particular individual. It does not constitute formal advice. For this reason, any individual should, before acting, consider the appropriateness of the information, having regard to the individual’s objectives, financial situation and needs and, if necessary, seek appropriate professional advice.