The New Radicals had it right in their classic 1998 debut single, “You Get What You Give.” While the song focuses on seeking opportunity and persevering, I feel that we can apply this simple line, “You get what you give” to the world of social media.

From Facebooking to Tweets, getting LinkedIn to Blogging, or YouTube-ing to Foursquare check-ins, the process of deciding how best to engage can make one’s head spin. Here are a few ways that all of us can incorporate the “you get what you give” philosophy in online presence:

1.   Focus on the helping, not the selling – Rather than seeing social media as the next marketing gold rush, view this as an opportunity to help. For instance, if you are part of the staffing industry, you may try to help others in the industry with their basic business problems. When communicating or engaging, think about what you can share with clients, prospective clients, partners, employees, or prospective employees.

2.   Share good, valuable content – This encompasses far more than just providing useful information. This involves defining your company culture while facilitating communications among fellow employees, candidates, those looking for jobs, clients, and prospective clients. Taking this one step further, this means that as a “helper” you should strive to share and to give your best.

3.   Reap what we sow – Just as plants well cared for can produce a good yield,
participation in social media can offer a profitable return.  In giving, we also receive. Take time to help people with their smaller problems, and they are more likely to trust you to help them with bigger issues.

In  the end, the relationships matter most. Therefore, like the New Radicals said, “You only get what you give.”

How can you give back to your online community today?