The sheer volume of social media sites available could make a grown man or woman weep as they try to navigate the landscape and place themselves or their brand in the mix. Social Media can jumpstart awareness of your brand or it can be an enormous time waster. The key is knowing where to put your energy, how often and when to turn your time and attention elsewhere.

Here’s a quick down and dirty checklist of sites I think are worth your attention as you stake your space in the social media world.

1. Facebook: More than 200 million users. Enough said. You need to be here. You can create a Facebook page and begin inviting people to join you as friends and if you’re using Facebook for your business you’ll want to create Facebook Fan Page. For a very informative video and written instructions, there’s no better coach than Mari Smith. I highly recommend her “How to Create and Promote Your Facebook Fan Page video and here’s the link:

Your Facebook Fan page is indexed and is searchable inside and outside of Facebook. This means that when someone googles the topic or your name, bingo: You’ve achieved virtual visibility. If you do nothing else (and you will) create a Facebook Fan Page for your business.

2. Twitter: Six to eight million U.S. users, depending on whose stats you’re viewing. Come on. It’s 120 character microblogging. You can find the time. Note: Each tweet can be 140 characters but keep it to 120 so others can Retweet you and help your info go viral. Twitter can be addictive. It’s real time conversation with the entire world. You can easily lose your focus and participate for long periods of time with this cyber cocktail party. Set a time limit (and a kitchen timer if necessary). Start with 10 minutes in the morning and 10 minutes at another time during the day. Share your expertise and look for others who are interested in what you have to say. Ask others about themselves. Engage, share worthwhile information, link to your website for more detailed information and stop for the day.

3. LinkedIn: You simply must be on LinkedIn. It’s the yellow pages of business professionals. LinkedIn can be a “set it and forget it” site but there’s significant value in updating regularly because every update puts you into the stream of updates on all of your colleagues with whom you are linked. It reminds them that you’re out there, doing interesting things, and keeps you and your business top of mind.

4. WordPress or Blogspot: Content is King and a blog, be it wordpress (my favorite), blogspot or another program, it is a great avenue for communicating your passion and purpose. You need to have a homebase for posting interesting and useful information in more than 120/140 characters. You can link to your blog on Twitter and Facebook to drive additional interest in your content. You’re blog can live on your website or can serve as your website, depending on your goals and the needs of your business.

5.Friendfeed: Great resource for sharing your favorite blogs and posts with all your social media sites at once. I simply love this application. You can add “Share on Friendfeed” to your toolbar and with one click post interesting information you find on the web to all of your social media site instantly. Yum! Three cheers for time saving applications.

6. Twellow and/or WeFollow: These are like the Yellow Pages of Twitter. For a minimum investment of your time, you can list yourself, free of charge, and make it easier for other people to find you. You’ll enter a few “key words” to describe your business, your service and your interests. You can also search these site for like minded people that you’ll want to follow. These are excellent resources for finding folks to follow and worth a few minutes a day as part of your twitter-follower building strategy.

7. Tweetdeck or Twhirl: For filtering the stream of noise in Twitter and making sure you don’t miss really important tweets from your peeps. Free to download and easy to learn to use, these are time saving applications that will help you take a look at your Twitterverse quickly and efficiently.

8. HootSuite: You can pre-schedule your tweets, manage multiple twitter accounts and measure your success with this wonderful Twitter toolbox. This, again, is a free application but you can choose to give a donation to help them continue to add new features. The choice is yours. Either way this will help you disseminate content, say from your blog or website, during pre-scheduled time periods throughout the day on Twitter, automatically. This is a wonderful time saver and definitely a worthy Phase One strategy.

9. Google Profile: You can now set up a google profile, similar to what you’ve already done on LinkedIn. I’ve made mine slightly less corporate and with a little more personality because I have multiple businesses and I want to engage the reader more with my personality than with my professional resume. I’ve included those links on my google profile so that information is there too. This is free, easy and indexed by google. Be there or be square. This really does seem to be a “set it and forget it” tool. If I find that it is evolving to a more social tool, I’ll visit this on a new post.

10. Technorati: If you have a blog, “claim” it on Technorati to help others find your words. Once you’re blog has passed their review standards, you’ll be indexed, an essential step toward standing out in the online universe. Technorati is also a terrific resource for finding blogs you’ll want to read and perhaps share with your Twitter and Facebook friends. This application is easy to use, takes very little time to set up, is a solid resource for content and thus makes my top ten Phase One Social Media tools list.