I received a question on my Formspring account, which you can reach at www.formspring.me/erinblaskie, which asked, “What do you recommend people do to grow their Facebook and Twitter following?”

Growing your Twitter and Facebook following can feel like a daunting task. You start with a profile and an empty list of friends / fans and followers and you might feel as though you’re Twittering and Facebooking to dead air at first. Growing your following is not something that you can purchase or learn about in an e-book so let me save you a few dollars and talk about some natural ways to go about doing this.

Let’s first look at Twitter. When you create your Twitter account, you have the option to search for friends. If you’ve already created your account, you can still access this area by going to the account menu, in the new Twitter, and clicking on “Who to Follow.” From there, choose the “Find Friends” option.

Twitter allows you to check LinkedIn, Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail and MSN Messenger to see who you are connected to in those places. Once Twitter does a search of each location, it will show you a list of people you already know that are also using Twitter. I recommend checking these sites at least once per month because as your Gmail and LinkedIn contacts grow, you might find new people to follow.

Facebook has a very similar feature to Twitter. While logged into Facebook, click on “Account” and then on the left-hand side of the webpage, click on “Find Friends.” Here, you can search through Hotmail, Yahoo, Live Messenger, Gmail and other tools to find friends that you know that use Facebook. As with Twitter, make sure to check back at least once per month.

These first two options will allow you to naturally grow your following with people you know. This is a great option because people will be more inclined to follow, interact and engage with you when they already have a relationship with you. However, if you are looking to build a following based on a strategy you have, each site also has ways to locate people.

Twitter has many directory sites setup all over the Internet. WeFollow.com, Twellow.com, etc. are examples of these directories and they categorize Twitterers into searchable directories. They operate much like your Yellow Pages does but are setup for Twitter instead.

Facebook is a bit trickier but what you can do is look for groups and pages that are topic-based and then follow / friend some of the people who are active inside of that group.

Lastly, make sure that you have social media icons everywhere promoting your profiles on each site. Link to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and wherever else you have accounts setup to ensure that people can easily find you.