Facebook: Social Networking Business Tool or Freelance Career Killer

Yes, I have a Facebook account. Yes, I have some friends and even some clients on there. Everyone seems to believe networking through Facebook is the way to develop and enhance a freelance writing career. I haven't found any  new clients through Facebook. I haven't gained any extra work through Facebook. I admit I've met some writers along the way, but that's about it.

And so, I have days and even weeks when I forget to log into my account at all.

So, why is it that so many writers who really need to be working hard to make the money they need to pay bills or mortgage or other expenses spend hours and hours per day sitting on Facebook chatting with friends or playing time-wasting games?

Is this a secret way of saying they don't really feel like being a professional writer today?

Or is it a complete lack of respect for the responsibility of the self-employed lifestyle they chose when they decided they didn't want to work a 9-to-5 job where they had no Facebook access at all?

I see it a lot: writers who complain that they can't find enough work or can't earn enough to pay the bills. They stress, whine and complain about staying up really late at night to catch up with overdue workloads. They leave paying orders they have accepted sitting unwritten for days and days and days....

And then you see those same writers playing or chatting on Facebook for three hours at a stretch, a couple of times a day. You shake your head in disbelief when you see writers who have submitted 88,000 words to a non-paying fan-fiction website just for kicks, even though I'm the lucky writer who gets to complete their actual PAID overdue work they didn't bother to complete - even though they moan that they can't afford to pay rent.

I don't know about you, but when I'm working, I like to .... you know.... WORK!

This means I'll sort through my schedule. I'll plan what I'm going to write for the day. I'll shut down my email program, turn off Skype, take my phone off the hook, crank up the stereo and sit my butt down to earn my mortgage-payments.

Sure, I get clients complain that it took me two hours to get back to them. They want to know why I don't respond to my emails or Facebook messages or Skype calls that instant. Of course, there are some clients who forget about the 16+ hour time difference and decide to try and contact me while I'm snoring soundly in the middle of the night.

But I explain it to them clearly: when I'm working, I'm really working. I'm not chatting. I'm not socializing. I'm not playing. I'm not networking. I'm not surfing the net, or goofing off in front of a movie. All of those things are left for when I've finished work for the day, completed outstanding orders and made the money I need to keep a roof over my head.

After all, I have a mortgage to pay. I have a daughter to feed. I have bills to pay and a myriad of other financially-related things to worry about. The last thing I need to be doing is wasting time playing with "social networking".

So.... tell me what I'm missing here. Should I spend hours of my day chatting on Facebook to other writers who are also complaining about not earning enough? Or is social networking a complete waste of time for a professional freelancer?

You tell me.