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SOCIAL MEDIA NEWS: SMEs shy away from Facebook

Over a third of SMEs are wary of using Facebook for business networking, refusing to add business contacts as ‘friends'.

However just under half of small businesses quizzed by online sales leads and business referrals network said they conducted their professional networking on business-focused networking sites such as LinkedIn and Xing and

The second annual Business Networking Trends Survey found that 80 per cent of entrepreneurs had achieved business wins through social networking sites, while 92 per cent of respondents said that they would recommend networking professionally online to their business contacts.

Nearly a quarter of small businesses are now using sites like Twitter for business networking.

There was a drop in the number of respondents believing that online networks help them get closer to customers and the study found business advice or career development is of much less interest than a year ago.

"This suggests that the business focused social networks majoring on discussions groups, finding answers and career development are poorly serving the small business community," says Ian Hendry, founder and CEO of and author of the report.

"What motivates entrepreneurs is real business. They want online networks to broker introductions to other professionals with a need for what they do. It may be a function of the recession that business people now expect a much more tangible return from the time they invest online. Clearly, not all networking sites are delivering."

More traditional face-to-face networking continues to grow with 36 per cent of respondents regularly attending networking meetings. In addition, the amount of money and time spent networking has also increased from a year ago.

While half of respondents plan to maintain the same levels of face to face networking activity in the year ahead, a slightly larger number (55 per cent) said they plan to increase the time they dedicate to networking online.