Whoever says that Twitter is just a way to waste time had better listen up. What’s the big deal? It’s only Twitter, right? But it’s not only Twitter… it’s Facebook, blogging, LinkedIn, wikis, online forums, videos and podcasts. What do these have in common? They are forms of social media.

So how is this relevant? We’re in a new-fangled age of innovation, one very different from the era of Henry Ford’s Model T. Ads in print media just don’t cut it anymore. Now companies urge their clients to look them up on Facebook and Twitter. Things are being done online more and more, not face-to-face.

Many people, entrepreneurs included, have found out that social media is an indispensable venue through which to network, to pool ideas and resources, and to market products and services. Classes, training sessions, how-to guides for entrepreneurs—all of them stress the importance of harnessing the power of this medium for the good of their start-up or existing business. What better illustrates this than last November’s Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW)? With 25,000 events and millions of participants worldwide, GEW shows the potential of online networking to foster constructive innovation on a global scale.

Another thing—young people are claiming a slice of the pie called “entrepreneurism.” Since young people have social media down—how many young people do you know who don’t have an account on at least one social networking site?—they’re one step ahead of the rest. Make sure your business is tapping into this potential market and resource.

The folks at the New Economy Initiative have certainly bought into this philosophy—after all, this is a blog (which is a social medium, remember?)—and believe that southeast Michigan’s promise lies in the creation of an entrepreneurial eco-system, one that welcomes diverse ideas and aspiring innovators.

So what’s it going to be? If you’re someone who wants to make your hobby or side business a full-time venture or develop an idea you’ve been chewing on for a while, give social media a try. Who knows, you might come across someone who has been scouring the web for the exact same rust-defying license plate spray that you want to manufacture and sell. A great resource for small businesses and entrepreneurs is the American Express supported OPEN Forum.  Check it out!