By Kristi Hines
Ready to start networking with other bloggers, business owners, and social media enthusiasts? Then Social Media Examiner's Networking Clubs are the place to be! Get answers from experts about blogging, Facebook, and small business while making connections with like-minded people. The following guide will take you through everything you need to know to get the most out of these networking clubs!
Signing up is easy! If you want to skip the hassle of filling out the form, you can simply sign in using your Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn account.
Signing up through your social accounts will not lead to unauthorized updates to your profile or status updates. It will simply create your account and pull in your profile photo, name, and create a username for you based off of your name.
Your Profile & Options
The first thing you will want to do is edit your profile. To do so, click on your Profile link from the welcome screen.
Now you will see your current profile image, name, username, and unedited profile.
Click on the Edit link to enter the following information on your profile.
Also, if you prefer to have a different avatar in the clubs, you can change it by using the Change Avatar link. I would suggest sticking with the same photo you use on your social networks as this will go a long way in personal branding. Your finished profile should look something like this.
Note: The Networking Clubs also support gravatar for higher quality avatars. If you have registered your avatar with gravatar, simply remove any URLs listed in the Change Avatar section under your Profile. Note: Be sure sure the email address you have on your account also matches one listed on gravatar.
You can also use the Edit Connections in the right side menu above the search box to connect all of your social networks to your profile. This way, you can login using any of them to get to your account.
You will see which networks need to be connected vs. which networks are already connected. You can also disconnect your social connections if you so choose using this screen, but then you will not be able to automatically log in using your social accounts.
If you would like to discuss something with another member in private, be sure to use the Messages section.
Here you can view incoming messages as well as your sent messages. To private message another member, hover over their picture anywhere in the clubs or the leaderboard and click the PM button. Or go to their profile and click the Private Message button.
You can also use the Compose link in your Messages area to send a private message to one or more members.
Once you start adding friends from the Networking Clubs and receiving friend requests from others, you can see them in this screen.
To add other members as friends, simply click on their photo anywhere in the clubs. Then click the Add Friend button to request friendship.
To keep track of topics you have created, replied to, and followed within the forums, click on the Forums link on your profile.
To stop following a topic under the Followed Topics section, go to the thread and click on the Mute Topic button. This will remove it from your followed topics list.
The Clubs area will show you the clubs you belong to as well as ones you have been invited to by other members.
Once you start getting active in the clubs, you can go to your Activity area to see your own activity stream under Personal, mentions of your username, activity by your friends, and activity within the clubs you have joined.
You can also post updates which others can view when they visit your profile by typing in the What's new box.
Note that your activity stream updates will be shown next to your name in the member directory and other areas within the forum.
Points, Ranks & The Leaderboard
This is where participation in the networking clubs becomes key! The people with the most amount of points in the last 30 days will end up on the Networking Clubs Leaderboard which is displayed throughout the Social Media Examiner website – not just within the clubs, but on the blog too!
You can view your points on your profile to keep up with where you are at and what activities are getting you ahead.
Some guidelines to the points is that you could receive include:
- 100 points for registration.
- 25 points for joining a group.
- 30 points for a new post in a club forum.
- 20 points for replying in a club forum (applies only to first reply and not for a discussion you started).
- 2 points for each accepted friend request.
- 5 points per day for logging in.
Click on the Settings link to see your General Settings, which includes your account email and password.
Alternatively, if you signed up using one of your social accounts, you will see something like this.
You can also change your notifications via email for the following by clicking on the Notifications link.
When you're logged in, you will see a toolbar at the top of every page. If you're familiar with WordPress, it's the same Admin Bar you're already used to. It will allow you to go to different areas of the clubs website as well as show you your latest notifications.
The Useful Links section on the main screen of the clubs has three particular areas you might be interested in.
The Club Rules page simply describes what the club promises, what not to post, and how to let someone know if there is a problem. Be sure to read this carefully so you don't have to get flagged or moderated later down the road.
The Search Members page contains the Member Directory where you can view members, currently sorted by their latest activity.
You can visit members' profiles or add them as friends using the Add Friend button. You can also use the search box to find a specific member of the community to connect with.
The Site Activity section will show you activity from all members, your friends, your clubs, and public mentions. You can also post an update to the public stream of activity using the What's new box.
Participating in the Clubs
To join a club, simply visit the club and click the Join Club button.
Replying to Posts
Once you've joined one or more of the clubs, be sure to introduce yourself in the sticky thread at the top of the discussions list.
To participate in this (or any) discussion, simply click on the discussion title. Once you've read previous discussions on the topic, you can add your own reply at the bottom in the Add a reply box.
To add links to your posts (only if they are absolutely relevant to answering the topic at hand – please note that no spamming is allowed per club rules), you can simply enter them as http://domain.com/page.html and they will be hyperlinked automatically or you can highlight text and use the link button to enter the URL to link to the text.
To add photos, click on the image button and enter the photo's URL.
Photos must be hosted off-site. For example, you can upload them to Flickr, then right click on the image, copy the image URL, and paste the image URL into the prompt.
If you want to notify a specific user of your reply in the discussion (similar to the way you would tag someone on Facebook or Google+), you will want to mention them by using their @username. This will send a notification to that user that you have mentioned them, and will also show up in their mentions activity. You can see everyone's usernames by hovering over their photo or looking at the top right corner of each post.
You can simply click on any @name in a discussion thread and that name will populate in the reply box.
When done correctly, the mention will look like this in the post.
Editing Your Discussions
Starting a New Topic
When you want to start a new topic within a club, use the New Topic button.
Again, if you notice a typo or want to add to the new topic you have created, you can use the Edit Topic link at the top of the thread.
Also, be sure to add appropriate tags to your new topic using the Tags field before you submit the topic. This will help everyone be able to reference topics on a particular subject matter.
Club Menu Options
Inside each club, you have a few options to choose from.
- Forum – Takes you to the latest discussion inside each club.
- Activity – Shows you the latest activity within the club.
- Members – Displays the members belonging to each club.
- Email – Get emails for new topics or all new activity in your favorite club.
You can also follow your favorite club using the RSS feed in the club's Activity area. If you like to keep your online updates organized in Google Reader or another RSS reader, you will want to take advantage of this RSS feed to see the latest topics and replies.
Questions or Comments
I hope this guide helps you get the most out of these clubs! If you have any questions along the way about how the clubs work, or notice any little hiccups in functionality (they happen, even in the best of platforms), feel free to send me a private message the Private Message button on my member profile.
I'll be happy to assist or pass the word onto the developer.