- Trulia Voices
There are others, but these are some of the more popular sites where real estate professionals engage the consumer and other business people in online conversation. LinkedIn is more tolerant of sales oriented approaches, as it is more of a business to business network. Recommendations of others are a big part of LinkedIn, and these recommendations are solicited and prized. Answering questions in your area of expertise that are posed by others is a great way to gain credibility on LinkedIn.
Trulia.com is a real estate portal and listings search site that has grown very quickly. The Trulia Voices portion of the site allows the consumer to discuss real estate, and more important, to ask questions related to real estate in local areas. Real estate professionals who are Trulia members in that area are free to answer these questions. Again, it's more OK in this type of situation to do a little selling of yourself. However, attaching your latest listing to an answer to a question would probably not make a friend of the person who asked.
Facebook is much more of a social network, and a place where people reconnect with old acquaintances and schoolmates. It definitely is a place where you can cultivate relationships that will benefit your business in the future, but only in the most social of ways, with little direct business or real estate focus. Your profile can show what you do and where you do it. You can also have your blog posts show up there. However, any more of a business focus than that will probably do you more harm than good.
Twitter is huge and only getting more popular. It's interesting, as the limitation to 140 character "tweets" forces people to be more succinct, with a kind of headline approach. I have my blog posts automatically excerpted to Twitter, so there's definitely a business bent to my tweets. Those who like what you have to say can "follow" you, receiving your tweets to their accounts automatically. You can pretty much go social, business, a combination, or each on individual accounts with Twitter. I have yet to get a client from Twitter that I know about, but expect that it will happen at some point, as I'm building followers for my local real estate tweets.
Spend some time learning about each of these and other networking sites. Don't just jump in until you get a feel for the culture. If personal, family and home type stuff is the major focus, then a very subdued business approach is definitely best. If it's LinkedIn, get all of your qualifications and past job history up there. You never know when someone is searching LinkedIn for just your skills.