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What Is Social Networking Anyway?

One of my Facebook buddies, Nigel Legg, recently wrote this Note:

I’ve read so many posts on Facebook and blogs and elsewhere about social networking that seem to confuse social networking with what we do on sites like this. Surely social networking is what we do everyday of our lives, whenever we talk to someone, whenever we meet someone new, whenever we develop a business relationship? In this sense, the stuff we do here is an add-on to what we do in the real world, and should not be confused with the real social networking we do at a cocktail party.

I started to respond, but Facebook limits the character space. (They don’t tell you; you just get cut off at a certain point!)

So, I’m posting my response here:

Great questions/points you raise, Nigel.

My two cents:

There are several types of “networking” that could all be lumped into two main categories: online and offline.

Social networking is just that – social. Business may arise out of the social connection, but the emphasis should always be on social first.

Facebook and MySpace provide online platforms that allow us to mix and mingle with people we know and people we don’t know… yet. Parties, receptions, and the likes do the same thing in person… except that when we leave, we may or may not connect with those people again.

Then there’s business networking. LinkedIn seems to be the leader in this online arena. And, there’s an abundance of in-person networking groups, clubs, and events for professionals in every major city.

Chatting at a cocktail party could be either business or social depending on the nature of the event.

For me, I subscribe to the concept “How you do anything is how you do everything. I’m not one of those pushy, aggressive, speed-networkers. As a natural Connector (defined in Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point) I know an incredible number of people. However, I take time to nurture and maintain relationships with those I resonate with most and those who are strategic contacts.

During this past holiday season, I attended a slew of social events – each one was casual, social. However, I tend to listen to people and ask questions from the standpoint of who or what do I know that could help them get to the next level?

So, for me, the lines are very blurred between social and business… and between online and offline.

Here are a few excellent books to support your social and business networking!

The Millionaire’s Handbook by Mel Kaufmann

It’s like Zig Ziglar says, “You can get anything in life you want, if you just help enough other people get what they want.”

BTW, writing Facebook Notes is a terrific way of inviting participation, sparking discussion, and introducing new contacts to one another… simply by saying/asking something interesting and tagging certain friends.

Mari Smith

Often referred to as “the Queen of Facebook,” Mari Smith is widely known as the Premier Facebook Marketing Expert and a top Social Media Thought Leader. Forbes describes Mari as, “… the preeminent Facebook expert. Even Facebook asks for her help.” IBM named Mari as one of seven women that are shaping digital marketing. Mari is an in-demand keynote speaker, corporate social media strategist, dynamic live webcast host, and popular brand ambassador. She is coauthor of Facebook Marketing: An Hour A Day, and author of The New Relationship Marketing.

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1 Comment

  1. Peter Koning on January 7, 2008 at 12:17 am

    We’ve always had social networks in the past, but now with new web2.0 technology it’s become easier to move some of this to the web.

    I don’t see a big difference between social and business networking.

    Maybe it’s because I’ve always looked at strangers as “friends you haven’t met yet” and simply try to help them vs viewing them as prospects I can make money from in the short term.

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