Here’s a personal story for people who stop in here and who aren’t already my friend on Facebook…

I recently made a business contact whom I have a lot of respect for. She’s a marketing maverick who has been in the business 30 years or more. In fact at times our lives have run parallel – right down to the city of Toronto, promotions on Nathan Phillips Square and a bout in teaching.

Although I’m certain she’s brilliant in the local, face to face networking world, online she has no experience. She asked for my assistance with some personal branding and marketing online. Now she didn’t ‘call’ it that – in fact what she did call it was “I need 1,000 Facebook friends to win a challenge with my teenage son.”

“What’s Your Social Capital,” I politely asked.

Not a lot of business people have considered this when it comes to Web 2.0 so I’ll try to provide examples as an explanation.

If you are a celebrity, have written a book, have a secret to share, are selling something uniquely yours, offer a limited service or have any other value to the masses – you have automatic clout. Social Capital.

Without social capital – and the need to get 1,000 Facebook friends in a matter of days – you’ll have to sit at your keyboard, requesting friends from all of your existing friend’s list and hoping that they accept.

Don’t have that kind of time? You’ll have to fake the social capital then. By faking it I don’t mean lying or making yourself out to be something better than you are. But you will need to give people a reason to want to be your friend. This is very hard to pull off when you’re new to Facebook or new to marketing online unless you can find your tribe quickly and easily.

“Find Your Tribe?”

If you can find your tribe, or like minds, on any social networking website, you will quickly make friends and grow a list of contacts. As an example I have a fan page (but it also could have been a group) for a topic that I love and thousands of other North Americans enjoy. Currently just under 1,000 people are fans of that page even though I only wrote about 5 posts and added about 10 personal photos to. These people are my tribe and I didn’t have to hunt for them, they found me. Furthermore, as I am considered an expert on the topic in this tribe I have social capital. Social capital that, if I asked for it, would result in over 70% of that tribe become my personal friends.

Is all of this Social Networking starting to make sense yet?

If not, don’t sweat it. You’ll understand social capital and finding your tribe once you have taken your offline marketing skills into the online world. In the meantime, if you need to make a lot of friends fast, fake that social capital! This is newbie online marketing that anyone can do. All the techniques that apply to building an email list can grow that friend’s list exponentially, daily. How’s it done? A bribery of sorts. Create a free report or ebook of proprietary information to give away for the honor of being your friend (or signing up for your list). Hold a contest. Give, to get.

Let me know how it goes,

Laura Childs