Google+ is here and people are fumbling their way through it. With just a little more than 24 hours of Google+ use under my belt, I am obviously now an expert on it so I’m going to share a few tips that I have stumbled upon. They are all simple things that hopefully you will find useful.

  • Approach it like Twitter, not Facebook. Adding people to Circles is like following them on Twitter. When you add someone to a Circle you aren’t making a “friend request”, though that person will be notified that you are now following them. You will be able to see their public updates, and if they decide to follow you back you will also get to see whatever they share with whatever Circle they have put you in. This follow system means there is no nervous wait to see if someone accepts your friend request. To make Circles even more useful, you choose which Circles will receive any post you make – it is kind of like having multiple Twitter or Facebook accounts and choosing which information to post to each. To top it all off, the people you follow will never know which Circle you have put them into – so there is no worries about your distant third cousin finding out you haven’t included them in your “family” Circle.
  • Find a “connector”. With Google+ being so new it can be difficult to get a “full experience” – a social network isn’t much good if you don’t have anyone to be social with! My solution was to find a few people, then look through who was in their circles. I found Monte Cook following Mary Robinette Kowal, who in turn was following a treasure trove of writers and publishing industry folk. I don’t recommend adding anyone and everyone to your circles, but having a look at who is following who is a simple and fast way to make connections.
  • Fill out your profile description. Make sure you fill out the profile description – a short statement that appears under your name. After going through more than a thousand profiles, I found myself automatically skipping anyone that didn’t have a brief description of who they are or what they do. Make the description short, but useful. I noticed lot of people listed who they work for without identified their role within the organisation, which was frustrating, too. As my mindset is already in the “Twitter” space, I am hoping Google+ will be a useful networking tool and if you have the same intention, make sure you describe yourself in a useful manner.
  • Update your profile picture. Google+ has a much bigger picture on your profile page, so you will likely need to upload a larger, better resolution image. The good news is that pictures can be dragged straight from your desktop to your photo page, making it super simple!
  • Use Sparks as a conversation starter. My daily routine is to go through my feed aggregator and tweet interesting articles that I find. Sparks for Google+ makes this process even easier. Each Spark is a search topic that you can make as broad or specific as you like, which you read straight from your Google+ profile. When you find something interesting you click “Share” and choose which Circles to send it to. Done.

Well, these are my initials observations and ideas on Google+. I am going to watch it closely and see what happens from here. So far I am very impressed (and i haven’t even tried Hangouts yet). Let me know if any of this was useful to you!