Start By Finding People You Know
You can use the "Find People" search box at the top of the site to search names, company names, places (cities/towns), schools, etc. to find people you know.
Open up the profile pages for each of these people and hover over "Add to circles" to put them in a circle (friends, family, acquaintances, following or make a new circle).
Then Find People You Don't Know
After circling those that you do know, start circling people you don't to widen your network. Search by topics you're interested in, work/school experience, or location.
Remember, as you create circles, circles are not public. Adding someone to circle, while they will get a notification, is not "friending" them on Facebook or creating a close bond between you and them. It's simply curating/personalizing your streams so they're more interesting to you. The more people you add, the better your G+ experience will become.
Get Organized With Lots Of Circles
Create circles big and small (and populate them): some for sharing, and others you purely follow, simply to keep tabs on topics/industries that interest you. Make some that are more targeted, such as just people who work at a specific company. Take time to add hundreds of people to circles, as only then will your home Stream transform to real-time.
Among the most engaged users on the platform are those behind it: Googlers. They're quick to respond to feedback, often post about new features, and also share the most innovative uses of G+ which will give you ideas. You can find a comprehensive list of Googlers on Google+ here.
Make A Bookmarks Circle
You can create a bookmarks or favorites circle to save your favorite posts on Google+ or read them later. You don't need to put anyone in that circle. Simply share posts to that circle when you want to save them.
Interact With Interesting Content
When you find something interesting, say so: give it a +1, comment or share. Beyond engaging with the Google+ community, and possibly forming new connections, you're giving signal to the original creator that their post was valuable or meaningful. That means they'll likely share more content like it.
Interacting with content you find interesting is also a great way to meet new people who appreciate the same content. They may join in on the comments thread or even click over to your profile to learn more about you. This could also lead to more people adding you to circles.
Don't Treat It Like Facebook
Some may say Google+ threatens Facebook or it was a response to Facebook, but regardless of the media and tech chatter, users shouldn't treat Google+ like Facebook... because that's not what it is. This Google+ post by Christina Trapolino lays out nicely exactly why you shouldn't treat Google+ like Facebook.
Set Up Sparks
Spend some time customizing the Sparks page, which presents news feeds on topics that might be of interest, from cooking to sports. This can be found in the left column on the main page, under your home stream and circles. Throw in topics that interest you, sports teams, people, companies, and even websites as it will become an RSS reader of sorts. Not only does this make great morning/night reading, but Sparks can be a place to find interesting content to share on G+ and it's easy to do so.
Hangouts are a way to engage with the burgeoning community that exists on G+ and meet new people through mutual friends, your circles and your extended circles (who your friends circle). You'll come across many friendly people and see how it really is a "small world," especially at this stage with so many tech/media/social folks here.
Uneasy about hangouts? One way to ease the initial pressure is to first do one with a friend: either start your own and invite people you know, or head to the same hangout with a friend.
Then Join More Hangouts
To get the most out of hangouts, you'll want to join as many as possible. The more you do, the more comfortable you'll become, the more people you'll meet and the larger your G+ network will grow. Here are some other tips:
-You can mute your video and/or audio if you'd like for your first few, basically hiding yourself from view. You can still chat with the group via text if you'd like, or just watch.
-You can also mute the video and/or audio of another participant if you don't like what you're seeing/hearing, or report abuse directly to Google.
Fill Out Your Profile Page
A complete profile page will make it easier for others to discover you and in turn, likely lead to more people circling you and more opportunities for interaction for you. Start with the basics, of course: name, occupation, employment, education and places you've lived.
But add a bit more too in the "Introduction" area. Don't forget to list all of your main interests and the type of content you might write about on Google+. You can also add a list of links to other places to find you around the Web, including other social networks.
Check Out Suggestions
After all of this, utilize the right hand column "Suggestions" on your home page to find even *more* people you likely know or might like to follow on the service. It's not clear how Google recommends these folks, but it's somehow algorithmically-based, and the results are pretty good. It's perhaps based on mutual friends or similar interests.
Hover To Quickly Circle
One nifty feature that can really save time is the ability to hover over any Google+ user name to quickly add them to a circle, remove them from a circle, or even create a new circle for them. It's worth noting here that you can add someone to more than one circle if you wish and change where they're circled at any time. Also on a hover, you can see where the person works (if listed) and friends you have in common.
Utilize Your "Incoming" Stream
The more you use Google+ and engage with it, the more others will circle you and begin sharing content to you. The relationship will not always be reciprocal, as you're unlikely to follow everyone back, but there's still a way to keep track of these folks. That's where "Incoming" comes in.
The "Incoming" stream is content from everyone you haven't circled back, but they've circled you. Since they've identified *you* as interesting, chances are they might be interesting too, and sharing content you'll like. One of the best parts of the Incoming stream, beyond the unique blend of content, is that you can easily decide to circle anyone on the spot.
Invite Your Friends And Family
Lastly, you can improve your Google+ experience by inviting people you know to join. It can be a lot more fun with friends, family, colleagues and others you know that aren't yet on Google+. To invite, simply use the "Send Invites" link in the bottom right of your G+ homepage or share anything from the service to the person's Gmail address and they'll be invited.
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