One of the most common complaints we hear from our clients about the social media is that it eats up time. They fear that once their employees get on the sites, they will no longer have time to do their jobs. I remember hearing this same complaint about allowing employee access to the internet. There’s no question that internet access and email correspondence eat up much of our day. Does it waste time? There’s also no question that access to the social media will eat up your day. Will it waste time?

Today no business can function without the internet. We predict that tomorrow no business can perform without the social media. But, how can we incorporate social media into our day and save time? Here are five tips:

1. Create a social media strategy. Think about what you want to accomplish by using the social media. Do not join Facebook or Twitter just because someone asks you. Decide why you want to participate and then set some clear goals for participation. Think about how participating on these sites will help move you closer to your customer.

2. Limit your time on the social media. Allow yourself no more than an hour a day to update, explore and contribute to the social media sites. Block off the time as if it were an appointment.

3. Look for ways to network on the social sites without having to go to networking events. Networking events consume a lot of time. They require you to get in your car and go someplace. Use the social sites to network with others as you would at a networking event. Here are some ways: a) Find a niche you want to network with. It could be sales managers, human resource managers, recruiters. b) Share information that you think would be helpful to someone as you might face to face at an event. LinkedIn gives you lots of opportunities to do this in the Discussion section of their groups. Look over the discussions. Can you add anything that might answer someone’s question? c) Sign up on other people’s sites. This is like asking for someone’s business card. d) Comment on other people’s blogs.

4. Use the social sites to find potential leads. In other words, use the social sites to prospect. You can use the search function on LinkedIn or Twitter to locate businesses that fit your niche.

5. With all the time you’ve saved by not going to networking events and by eliminating cold calling, add another hour or 30 minutes to your social media daily schedule. But, never allow yourself to exceed two hours daily on the social sites. If you do, your friends will accuse you to a new addiction!

The New Handshake offers even more suggestions to help you use the social media and save time. As with anything new, it takes time to learn what to do. In the beginning you’ll spend more time learning. After a few weeks, your learning curve will diminish and you’ll spend less time on the social media. You’ll create your own system for connecting with people. You’ll learn the best ways to leverage the social media to accomplish your goals. Don’t take my word for it, give it a try!

Author's Bio: 

Joan Curtis is the CEO for Total Communications Coach She has done leadership training and consulting for over 20 years. Her new book, Managing Sticky Situations at Work http://www.managingstickysituationsatwork, came out in June 2009. In it she creates a new model of communication called the Say It Just Right Model. Her new book, The New Handshake: Sales Meets Social Media co-authored with Barb Giamanco will be out in July 2010. Check out the blog,