How to Thrive on the Totally Transformed Google+By Mike Elgan Print
Forget everything you think you know about Google+. Now that it's about people's passions, it's a better place for professional development and networking.
The new Google+ is all about Communities and Collections. To clarify the difference: Communities are topic areas where anyone can post; Collections are topic categories where only the Collection owner can post on their own profile. People can comment on both Community and Collection posts.
What Communities and Collections have in common is that they organize conversation based on topics of shared interest, rather than on interpersonal relationships. And therein lies the new Google+ opportunity.
How to Use the New Google+
Now that Google+ is all about people's passions, it's a better place for professional development and networking. In other words, Google+ is now a better place for exploring and learning about your areas of professional development, making connections with others in your industry, or interacting with potential partners, customers or future employers.
What hasn't changed is the power of engagement: Nothing beats getting in there and interacting with others every day about your areas of professional interest.
The first step is to find and join (or create) the relevant Communities. Go to Google+, click on the "Communities" item on the left side of the page and use the search box to search the communities for the topics that interest you. When you find Communities that look promising, join them.
If there are gaps—areas of interest not covered by popular or quality Communities—create your own. To create your own Community, use the Yours tab in the Communities area, then click on the plus sign. You'll be guided through the simple process of creating a new community.
Now that you have your Communities set up, it's time to become a valuable member of each by sharing your own posts and commenting on the posts of others.
Do the same with Collections. First, click on the Collections item on the left and do another search for the topics of professional interest to you. The top row will be Collections results. Click on the "More" link at the top right of the page. Explore these Collections and click "Follow" on the ones you like.
To be clear, you are now following individual people, but just one of their Collection topics. You may later discover other great people to follow and choose their interesting Collections.
Now set up your own Collections in the same way you created Communities. In the Collections section, click on "Yours," click on the plus sign and follow the easy instructions for creating collections.
If you're unfamiliar with Google+, Communities and Collections may seem redundant. But they're not.
When using Google+ for professional development, think of it as you would a conference. When you attend a professional conference, you may choose to attend sessions based on their topics, even if you've never heard of the people speaking or the others in the audience. But after the session, you may strike up conversations with people in the room, exchange business cards and follow up with those people later.
On Google+, the Community is the session and the Collection is the exchange of business cards.
By being very active in your Communities, following the Collections of others and posting on your own profile, you will learn, connect and grow both the people you follow and the people who follow you.
Google+ is the best social network I'm aware of for building meaningful and long-lasting professional relationships, as well as building your own brand, learning more about an industry and developing your expertise. But to take advantage of this, you've got to actively engage every day.
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