Glad to find out I’m not the only one somewhat confused about how to use/make the most of social media — you know, LinkedIn, MyRagan, Facebook, MySpace, [oops forgot Melcrum’s Communicators’ Network] etc.

Pamela Slim at the entertaining Escape from Cubicle Nation (love that title!) mentions her own confusion and asks for advice. One commenter notes that these sites are a way to increase your visibility and build relationships, but the key is that it all happens over time. Read the comments for thoughts on “friending” (don’t love those nouns as verbs), meaning accepting a connection or invitation to be a friend. Sometimes it does seem like a contest where the person with the most friends/contacts wins, but I’m not looking to add a million contacts. I’d prefer to show a connection to someone with whom I already have some kind of link, maybe through an existing off-line network or association. When I invite someone, I try not to send a form invite but add a personal line about what prompted me to do so.

Dave Traynor at the Daily Upload also posted some thoughts on social media and wonders what he’s supposed to be doing with “all this stuff.” Dave links to a story that explains more about Twitter, in which writer Clive Thompson points out that it gives you a sixth sense about your friends, but you have to use it to understand it. Good, because I had the impression it was just sharing the “stupefyingly trivial” (Thompson’s words) and wondered how it could possibly be anything more than mildly amusing.

Through a link to Dan York‘s Disruptive Conversations, I came across Chris Brogan (“A conversation with a community about digital relationships”), who had some thoughts about Twitter and also links to a post on etiquette for LinkedIn by Penelope Trunk (“Brazen Careerist”). Among her suggestions, I particularly liked “remind me how I know you” when inviting someone to connect.

I’m interested to read about the new forms of etiquette, but like Dave, I’d also like to know how others are using these tools. How useful is Twitter and in what ways? What are you getting out of LinkedIn and other communities?