This is the outline of a presentation scheduled for January 31, 2011 in Washington DC titled "Make the technology support your personal communication strategy -- Not the other way around!" The presentation is sponsored by 40Plus of Greater Washington: http://40plus-dc.org/ .
What are you trying to accomplish? Get a job? Generate consulting income? Don't know yet? Your answer to this question will influence specifics of your strategy. Think about this before you start spending time and money on systems, groups, and services. Keep in mind that you won't always be able to "pidgeonhole" all the contacts you make, especially at the beginning. Some people will be potential employers, some will be influencers, some will be potential consulting clients -- and some will be potential friends. IMPLICATIONS FOR SYSTEMS: Look for flexibility in managing your relationships. Don't rely on someone else's definitions of "friends" or "contacts."
Questions: What groups and communities are relevant to your personal communication strategy? What are the organizations, groups, or associations where these people and organizations gather? What do you need to monitor? Where do you need to engage? IMPLICATIONS FOR SYSTEMS: Be sure to take advantage of free news scanning services like Google Alerts http://www.google.com/alerts. Be aware that individuals and organizations differ widely in terms of the information they are willing to share online and/or for free. Sometimes you have to devote much time and energy to engaging on a personal level just to network with some target communities -- this can be very time consuming and suggests the need for constant prioritization.
You'll be making both direct and indirect contacts with the people and communities that interest you. You need a disciplined approach to organizing, tracking, and scheduling information about the people and organizations that interest you and the information you generate and gather about them.
What do you want people to know about you?