One of the first questions people ask me about social networking is how to find more friends. After all, a big part of social networking (when you’re doing it for business that is) is to find more prospects. And if you don’t get some friends and followers, you’re not going to accomplish that. (Not to mention the fact that the whole point of social networking is being social, and without friends or followers that will be tough to do.)So how do you find friends and followers? Below are 3 general tips that will work on all social networking platforms. (In other articles I’ll talk about strategies on specific sites.)1. Find people yourself. Yes this is as simple as it sounds. Go out and friend or follow people. Chances are they’ll eventually follow or accept your friend request, and then you’ll start building your list.The downside is it’s time consuming for you. It takes more time than you might expect to search and check out profiles. (And you don’t want to do this willy nilly. You do want to make sure the people you’re befriending or following are in your target market or you’re wasting your time and energy.)Plus some sites, such as Facebook, have limits on how many people you can friend in one day, which makes the process take even longer.So yes, this is a good strategy to get the momentum going, but I wouldn’t rely on it as a long-term strategy.A much better way is to get your target market to come to you. How do you do that? Well…2. Be visible. In other words, whatever social networking site you’re focusing on, log on and do stuff on it. Post updates, post comments, ask questions, tweet, etc. If people see you around, then they’ll start coming to you.You can also use many of the automated tools to cross-feed the different social networking platforms into each other. So, for example, you can feed Twitter into Facebook, your blog into Facebook and Twitter, and Twitter and Facebook into your blog. All that cross-pollination means you don’t have to recreate the wheel — you can choose where you’re posting for maximum effect.3. Be a friend. What does it mean to be a friend? Well, friends help each other out, right? So, make sure you spend some of your time helping out your social networking friends. Maybe you promote one of your friends’ products or services or free teleclass. Maybe you give a testimonial. Maybe you answer a question or give some free advice with no strings attached. Maybe you provide really great content. Think about how you can help someone else and do it.So, do these tips sound familiar? They should. They also work in the offline world. If you want friends in the real world, what do you do? You go out and meet people. You’re not going to make very many friends if you spend all your nights holed up in your house on your couch watching Law and Order reruns.You make yourself visible in your community so people will see you and introduce themselves to you. And the more you do for other people, the more that goodwill will come back to you.This is really important to keep in mind. Social networking is just like networking in the real world. Yes, it looks different online. Yes the tools you use is different. Yes the etiquette is different. But if you come from a place of truly trying to be a good social networking pal, then everything else will fall into place. If you come to social networking looking for a shortcut to building real relationships, then you’re probably going to be disappointed with the results.