Response to Google+, the new social networking platform from Google, has ranged from excitement to groans from people already overwhelmed with too much social media activity.
If you haven't yet gotten on Google+, or haven't started really exploring the platform, here's what you need to know:
Getting Started on Google+
Probably the first thing you're going to want to do on Google+ is review and edit your profile. Chances are that Google already has some (hah! "some") information on you, perhaps through your Gmail account, or your use of a Google app, or even because at some point you set up a Google profile.
However, it's probably time to review that information and update it. Like any social media platform, the more "lived in" your profile is, the more you will attract and engage other people on the network.
After your profile accurately reflects your entrepreneurial acumen, you'll probably want to adjust your privacy settings. One of the best thing about Google+ is how easy it is to manage your privacy.
Separating Friends & Family from Business Associates
Unlike most other social networking platforms that only added the ability to group and filter people as an afterthought, Google+ launched with Circles, which is the way you'll organize different groups of people in your life.
Google+ starts you off with some pre-determined groups, but you can rename them or delete them as you see fit. Also, no one but you can see your circle names, so feel free to give circles names like "Posers," "Crackpots" and "Minor Annoyances."
As an entrepreneur, what you want to keep in mind is that Circles control both your incoming stream (messages from other people) as well as your outgoing message. No need to bore your family with a link to your latest blog post; now you can just share that with your Business Connections circle. Likewise, photos from your latest camping trip can be safely shared with friends and family and no further.
Group Video Chat
Whether you have vendors from overseas, or clients from across the country, or you're just too lazy to get off the couch, Google+'s group video chat option, called a Hangout, is a great, free option to having face-to-face meetings, whether they're one-on-one or with multiple people at once.
Although Google+ is promoting Sparks as one of the key concepts of Google+, so far they're not very impressive. Basically, they work like Google alerts, but with fewer and less interesting results. (At least that's been my experience.)
Sparks are basically your areas of interest; choose/create a spark and Google makes information about that interest—SEO, video games, debt ceiling—readily available to you and only a click away.
From an entrepreneurial standpoint, the way you might use Sparks is to get ideas for blog posts or videos, or to have something to share with your Circles that would be of interest to them.
Sharing on Google+
As with so many other social networks, one of the critical ideas is to share quality content. If you've ever shared anything on Facebook—and if you haven't, you're probably not reading this post—then the sharing tools will look familiar.
Go to the top of your News Feed—I mean Stream—and you'll see a sharing box. Choose what type of content you wish to share—update, video, photo, or link—and your .02, and then choose which Circle and/or people you'd like to share that with.
If you're sharing a video you can upload your own video or choose a video from YouTube.
Google+ for Businesses
Out of the gate there's no equivalent for Facebook Business Pages on Google+. Some businesses have already created pages, but Google+ has been asking businesses to hold off as they're rolling out some business-specific plans which are now being accelerated. Google has not been shy in saying that they may start taking down personal profiles of businesses.
It's probably not worth starting a page for your business just yet, but rather you should be concentrating on building your personal network on Google+ instead.
Feel free to join me on Google+. See you on the Interwebs.