Networking is a vital tool in achieving an image/brand. Establish a network like a wheel. The hub is core content (web site, blog, books, articles, useful materials). The spokes leading from the hub are the tools to network content that is linked to the hub.
Contacts are the engines that power the wheel.
Content is the fuel that feeds the social networking contacts and powers the wheel.
As the wheel turns, the quality of the networking improves with feedback and the wheel climbs the optimization hill of the major search engines (SEO).
Limiting factors are the quality of the core content and knowledge/persistence in networking.
Personal, professional and business branding is occurring regularly, whether or not we are aware of it.
From our web site presence to our postings on the sites of others, from our credit ratings to our cell phone records and application navigation, we are tracking others and being tracked ourselves.
Deciding to become active in social networking is really a matter of managing personal, professional and business images/brands or having them manage us.
For further details on the above, please see the below articles at the FREE web site I maintain as an extension of my volunteer work: