Social networks are far more than another way for the young to chat and idle their time. They are a powerful new business media, connecting people and businesses and providing instant access to information, comment and new markets. Here are Ten Top Tips on the use of social media in FM:

1. LinkedIn is the leading business oriented social networking site with more than 80 million users worldwide in November 2010. Users post their career profiles; connect to friends and colleagues and through them to others. This is the fastest way to find people in FM if you want to check them out, make new contacts or to get your next job. Connect with me here.

2. LinkedIn Groups are one of the most useful features of the site. Users can form or join Groups on any common subject to connect with new people, follow and participate in discussions, ask questions or just keep up with news. Notable FM Groups include: ‘British Facilities Management’ with 1900+ members,’I-FM.Net Information Facilities Management Network’ with 900+ and ‘Facilities Management Association’ with 800+ members

3. Facebook is the biggest of all social networking sites with more than 500 million users at July 2010. Indeed it is now the world’s most viewed website. It is a terrific way to check people out and many FMs use it to share interests, keep in touch with colleagues or to follow businesses that they like. Follow FM Guru on Facebook

4. Twitter is the other massive site with 175 million users who post comments and follow others on a wide range of subjects. Twitter is fast becoming the leading search tool providing instant access to the latest news and views. Search for facilities management and you will find hundreds of jobs being advertised. Search for #facilitiesmanagement and you will instantly connect with FMs around the world

5. FMs on Twitter worth following include @thefmguru@TFMTweets@BIFM_UK@FM_Conference@TheFMJ@AssetSkills@PWNews@ifmnet@FMCoach@FMExpert@Frankandbrown@iswhiz@FMXMagazine@FM_World@IFMA and many more including most of the leading FM service providers and magazines.

6. YouTube is about more than funny videos of cats and excerpts from TV shows. A search for Facilities Management reveals a wealth of comment, case studies and opinion from around the world. As a self study tool YouTube is second to none. It is also an excellent tool for promoting the benefits of FM to a wider audience. Checkout an FM apprentice from Channel 4 talking about his new career.

7. Blogs are personal websites that are frequently updated with news, views and comment and are interactive, allowing readers to comment and message one another. This ability to self-publish quickly and freely is widely used by FM consultants and service providers reducing the power of the traditional trade media. Blogs can be created quickly and freely at sites like WordPress and Blogger.

8. FM Bloggers worth following include Martin PickardJohn BowenMartin BrownHeidi SchwartzMichael TheriaultLiz KentishIain MurrayJames Wouduysen and Andrew Brown.

9. Dedicated networks: In addition to the open business networks like LinkedIn there are a number of FM only groups where the conversation is kept at a peer-to-peer level which some people find more acceptable. Most of these are closed groups where membership has to be approved. Good examples are Connect with FM which is run by ConnectedFM, built environment network Be2Camp Network with BIFM, operated by the BIFM itself.

10. Real Networks: I am a huge fan of the opportunities that social media offers to facility managers for knowledge sharing, making connections and personal development. However nothing is better than meeting real people in real time. FM can be quite a lonely profession especially for those in smaller businesses and meeting others in the same position can be an enormous boost. There are many business networking groups and a few dedicated to facilities management. Some are very local; a good example is the Facilities Management Special Interest Group of the Milton Keynes Chamber of Commerce . BIFM Regions are excellent meeting places for FMs as are the monthly networking events held by the FMA . Many sectors have their own network groups such as the FM Charity Network Forum or the Health Estates FM Association.

The practice of facilities management is continually evolving and reflects the changing nature of work and the workplace. The new business media are a real part of today’s business landscape and should be embraced by facility managers for the opportunities it offers. There are many others worth exploring such as BambuserAudioBooFlickrSlideshareMyPodcast and many more.

Explore, experiment and keep networking.