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By Ralph RobertsRISMEDIA, May 29, 2007-Teenagers may have made MySpace and other social networking areas on the Internet hugely popular at first, but that popularity has quickly spread through every generation. MySpace is now home to more than 200 million separate MySpace hangouts. When you consider the fact that the entire population of the United States just reached the 300 million mark, that’s pretty impressive.

If you are a Realtor or a salesperson in some other industry, you may be wondering why you should care about these online hangouts. After all, people are not hanging out on MySpace to buy houses or cars. They are hanging out to connect with others who share their interests and concerns.

However, something very interesting is happening online. As people gather in these virtual communities, they start to talk about all sorts of things. They write about everything that happens to them, including when they buy a great product from a helpful salesperson and when they feel as though they have been ripped off. They talk about great sources of information where they can pick up free tips and tricks on an assortment of topics. They discuss the conversations they have online with celebrities and other famous people. And they listen to one another when someone recommends or pans a company or a product.

What is happening is that the Internet is transforming the world into a global open-air marketplace. Selling now is more like selling in small town America in the 1950’s, when your reputation in the community drove sales more than any fancy marketing campaign. These social networks are leveling the playing field, so anyone with knowledge, talent, and an Internet connection can log on and start competing with the big boys and girls.
If you are in sales, no matter what you happen to be selling, you need to be online, supporting the communities where your clients and prospective clients hang out. You need to be publishing articles and comments on a daily basis to establish yourself as the expert and the go-to guy or gal in these communities. And you need to be listening to what these people need, what they are saying about the competition, and perhaps even what they are saying about you!

For those of you who are not blogging already, I encourage you to start right away. You can set up a blog in about five minutes on any of the more popular services, including MySpace, WordPress, Yahoo! 360°, Blogger, and a host of other sites. On MySpace, you can even search for people who are likely to be in your market and invite them to be “friends,” so you can start your very own social network.

Tip: Many salespeople go on MySpace and sign up with a nickname or handle. I strongly recommend that you use your real name. That’s what MySpace is all about-getting people to know who you are, what you do, and what you sell. If you hide behind a fake name, you defeat the very purpose of relationship marketing on MySpace!

Start out slowly at first to get a feel for blogging and social networking. Anything you say that upsets the online community can and will be used against you, so you have to be very careful. You should also avoid any heavy-handed sales tactics. Online marketing in social networks is strictly soft-sell. You need to establish yourself as a resident expert first, and then you can gently nudge prospective customers toward the products you are selling.

Just remember, your competition is already online and working hard to build a strong foundation in these community networks, so do not waste another minute. Get online and get blogging!

And while you’re at it, if you are on MySpace or as soon as you start your free MySpace account, be sure to add me as one of your “friends.” You can find me at myspace.com/RalphRoberts .

Ralph R. Roberts, official spokesperson for Guthy-Renker Home and author of Flipping Houses For Dummies (John Wiley & Sons), can be contacted at 586.751.0000, or by e-mail at RalphRoberts@RalphRoberts.com. To learn more about Ralph, investing in real estate, and protecting yourself against real estate and mortgage fraud, visit AboutRalph.com, GetFlipping.com, and FlippingFrenzy.com.

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