Social Online Networking 101

There are hundreds of online social networking sites, so where in the world do you start?

It was by pure accident that I got onto the granddaddy of them all, LinkedIn, in September/October of 2007. A friend said, “Hey, there’s this networking site called LinkedIn I think you should check into.” They said something about it being a professional networking site. They sent me an invitation and I accepted, but it felt oh-so-foreign.

I do, however, remember signing up — well, sort of I do — and then leaving it alone for the next several months. I was thinking “yeah, whatever” at the time.

Time passed and it was February of 2008 before I checked the site again. That is a very common thing, I’ve found. People sign up and then drift off. In February, I worked on my profile and also realized it has a Q&A forum. Some people are on LinkedIn longer before they realize that forum exists and some NEVER find it. It points to how nice it is to have a little help in navigating these sites. It would speed things up.

My first question on the Q&A was very narrow in scope and got few responses. It pointed to “how lame” the site was — or so I thought. Curious, I decided to give it another shot and asked a second question. This time I got over 100 answers in a few days’ time. What? How could that be? I wasn’t even known on the site … and these people saw my question asking about “one of your all-time favorite books.” While I can’t find the link to the 2008 question, I repeated it in 2009, which you can see here. There were 176 answers to this question the second year. It was so successful in attracting answers that I’ve now asked it each February (three of them now). It has become “my annual question.”

Judging from the answers coming from many locations in the U.S. and other countries, my curiosity grew. I’m one who has always loved diversity and meeting people from other places. LinkedIn appeared to be a doorway to learning about the world.

Let’s start there. LinkedIn’s underlying premise is about business, so it’s the place you should be if you plan to DO business. Social online networking has grown so quickly that it CAN be completely overwhelming. It’s amazing how many folks are now assisting others in getting set up and/or even managing their online presence.

In fact, those with an entrepreneurial spirit and good understanding of online networking have found full-time work in helping others in this regard. My job as a Relocation Director and owner of Moving Links 4 You means being in touch with people from many places all the time. It is one industry (out of a gazillion) that needs to be online. It’s opened many doors.

I am aware that many in the Baby Boomer age group (my age group) need some help in understanding this world. I have been in this world solidly for two years now and it occurred to me that it might be a good idea to write a few pieces for A News Café about the sites I use and become a sort of resource person in my community regarding online networking. Stay tuned for the individual articles about: LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and the clever site called XeeSM which houses all your URLs under one umbrella, which simplifies a lot!

Confused? I invite you to stay tuned right here for the posts yet to come about the online social networking sites. I’d love to be a resource for you and invite your questions.

Mary Lascelles (aka ReloMary) is with Moving Links 4 You Concierge Relocation Services — Assembling your Selling, Buying, Moving Team. You may reach her by calling 530.515.6299.

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