SM collageI wrote a post titled “Solo but Not Alone” several years ago and it struck a chord with a lot of my small business owner colleagues. One of the things entrepreneurs need to manage against is loneliness.

It may be lonely at the top in corporate, but it is REALLY lonely sometimes when you live alone and work from home. Sometimes it feels great and you think you are living the dream in your bunny slippers drinking from your giant coffee mug, just you and your laptop. Sometimes it doesn’t feel that great.

I was watching a video interview with my friend Sarah Thompson and she said – seemingly without any shame at all – for people to find her on Facebook and that she is on all day long.

Now I know Sarah well and she is one driven, no-nonsense lady who is creating a solid, successful business. She says she interacts on Facebook and schedules virtual lunches with friends and colleagues three times a week so that she doesn’t get lonely.

I too spend lots of time on Facebook for similar reasons. Carol prefers interacting on Twitter. I used to as well, but then I found I enjoyed the longer form and visual content of Facebook. I interact briefly with colleagues, friends, and family most days. Occasionally I even forget that I am working alone.

Over the four years I have been active on social media I have built wonderful relationships with people all over the world. I meet these people on whatever platform they favor. I have used Twitter to build strong relationships with many influencers, including Carol, Barry Moltz, Bob Burg, and many others. I even created a talk on how you can do this.

Barry Moltz has been known to warn small business owners about social media and using it to avoid the important things you need to be doing for your business calling it “the world wide waste of time.”

I certainly have been guilty of wasting time, but I also have been invited to participate on podcasts and join private Facebook groups with super-smart professionals. Additionally, I have received referrals for prospective clients because I stay front of mind since I am actively engaging with my core group of friends and colleagues several days a week.

It seems less like of a waste when you think of it that way.

LinkedIn is a different animal. It’s pretty much all business, which is a nice social media entry point for many who fear social media – or just think it’s silly. Not just an online resume repository and dynamically updating contact database (since people update their own information), LinkedIn is a powerful tool for you and your business.

If your network is your net worth, LinkedIn enables you to stay in touch with former bosses, colleagues, and clients. Then you don’t have to scramble if you suddenly need a recommendation for a project or job as I did recently.

And with the launch of its publishing platform and ability to embed media, LinkedIn has become as valuable – if not more valuable – than your website. More people read / share / comment on my posts there than on any other site I post on. I asked other content creators and they agreed.

Social media can be a lifesaver and can be a major time suck. You need to figure out what is the right time allocation mix for your sanity and your business.

I guess it really comes down to balancing priorities and scheduling. And being very honest with yourself about when you have time to play – and when you are going down the rabbit hole.

What do you think? Is social media a waste of time? Have you found it valuable personally? Professionally? I’d love to hear your thoughts.