The first time I was told that I am ubiquitous was a couple of years ago by a seller who was looking for an agent who specializes in St. Paul, Minn. She said that no matter where she searched on the Internet, my name kept popping up.

That could be because I have been using social media for more than five years now. Many of the social networks that I belong to today were not around five years ago, and I was often the first Realtor from my area to join and sometimes even the first person from Minnesota.

That did not do my business much good in the early days, but I am happy that I hung in there and learned.

The first time I was told that I am ubiquitous was a couple of years ago by a seller who was looking for an agent who specializes in St. Paul, Minn. She said that no matter where she searched on the Internet, my name kept popping up.

That could be because I have been using social media for more than five years now. Many of the social networks that I belong to today were not around five years ago, and I was often the first Realtor from my area to join and sometimes even the first person from Minnesota.

That did not do my business much good in the early days, but I am happy that I hung in there and learned.

As an early adopter of Foursquare, a location-based online service with gaming elements (see: "Taking social media beyond square one"), it seemed I could often become the "mayor," or most frequent visitor to a location, if I checked in more than once.

I hung in there and now I find friends and neighbors on Foursquare and am in a battle with a woman who lives around the corner to be the mayor of the local Holiday gas station.

I created accounts with most of the major local media sites. The newspaper and radio industries are going through the same kinds of changes that we are seeing in real estate. They need to have a presence on the Internet and use social media to survive.

Three of the local media sites are syndicating articles or photos from my site. I am not sure how it will all work out, but right now it is proving to be mutually beneficial and the sites are in their infancy.

I smile when I read about social networks that are "the next big thing." We have seen them come and go, but it doesn’t matter because we meet so many people along the way — and that is the point of social networking.

Last week I read about this hot new "must have" site. The name sounded familiar. I went and checked it out, only to discover that I had set up an account in 2006. Apparently it didn’t hold my interest, but I am sure I got something out of it.

No one really knows what the next big thing is. We do know that mobile apps are rising in popularity at a rapid rate, but no one really knows if the big thing of today will be around in a couple of years.

That is why it is important to read and experiment and to not get too hung up on tools or technologies, but to learn to use tools to participate and network.

Each day I read articles from Tech Crunch, Mashable, Huffington Post, Smashing Magazine and a series of blogs that are about social media, WordPress, writing, the iPad, mobile phone technology and my favorite must-read: Digital Photography Magazine’s website.

In addition to those sites, I read Inman News, the local news, 20 or so local Facebook Fan pages, and I read what my friends have to say.

I do this so I have a clue about what is going on in the world. I don’t want to wake up one morning and find out that it all changed again and I missed it.

Every week I dedicate a few hours to what I call "lab time." I explore new sites, software and apps. I test and try and learn. Sometimes I break things and sometimes I make some useful discoveries. I always learn something new.

I could just wait until "they" tell me what the next big thing is, but "they" may not understand my market or the culture of the area I live in or how I run my business or even what it is like to be a Realtor. There isn’t enough data out there and few studies or white papers, just words.

Every city has a unique kind of culture. There is no generic way to become ubiquitous or to use social media, just some basic principles about being engaged and engaging others.

There isn’t any single app or network that is or that will be a one-stop solution for all of our networking needs forever. It isn’t really about tools anyway — it is about doing what we have always done: meeting people and networking.

It should not take more than six months to become ubiquitous on the Internet. Go to social networks that you read about. Connect with others, join the conversation, add some content. Surf the Internet, look up the names of the sites that others are talking about on Twitter or Facebook, and look up any word that isn’t familiar — just "ask" Google. Surf, lurk, read and learn, and become ubiquitous in the process.

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