If you participate in social networking for your business, you probably have some sort of goal to grow and expand your network. You also probably know that simply signing up and setting up a profile is not gonna cut it. It takes time, patience, and actively connecting with strangers before your online network begins to grow.
Well here is one rule of thumb you can follow that will help to expand your network, and probably help you get to know those strangers a little better in the process. It's called reciprocation. I first read this little tip on an ActiveRain blog by Margaret Woda.
It's simple, really. When someone comments on your post/blog/tweet, etc., you comment on their comment (I'm glad you agree, thanks for the comment John Doe!), and also comment on their blog (John, interesting tips, I'll have to try those out!). Also, if someone subscribes to your blog, subscribe to theirs. This process of reciprocation becomes sort of a "mutual exchange," as Margaret called it, and can be considered returning the favor.
Not every one will follow the Rule of Reciprocation, but those who do will benefit from the back and forth sharing of info (that's the whole point, right?). This mutual exchange of online communication could lead to more in depth convos through email or phone, and could even lead to a client, either directly or indirectly.
At the end of the day, all that matters is that you are interacting with those that are interacting with you, and in a meaningful way that will build relationships.