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Jan HillSocial Networking for Adult Students

by Jan Hill

Social networking sites function as Internet, or online communities of users who share common interests or pursuits (such as hobbies, religion, or politics for example). Once you join or are granted access to these sites, you begin “socializing,” which includes reading the profile pages of other members and contacting them.

Overview of Social Sites

Sites such as Facebook, MySpace, and Friendster allow you to stay in touch with family and friends. For those who love animals, the social site BestFriends is devoted to educating people on the basics of proper pet care. LinkedIn is a business networking site, and Facebook is fast becoming recognized in that realm as well.  Plaxo and Jobster are social networking sites that can help you find employment. MyWorkster is a sister site to Indeed.com that allows college students to register and network with potential employers. Twitter is a social website that helps friends, family, and co-workers communicate quickly and easily through short updates called “tweets,” of 140 characters or less.

Importance of Social Networking

So why should you join a social site? Well, there are many benefits, besides just the friends you’ll make. You’ll meet individuals of great diversity, because social sites link people from all over the world, and you might learn something about a different culture or language. Social sites allow users to communicate and make connections, both personal and professional.

Before social networking sites became popular, people met on the Internet mainly through chat rooms, instant messaging services, and email. While many people still network this way, it is not always safe, and because profiles are not required, users cannot learn much about the person they are conversing with, including whether or not they are really who they say they are. Most social websites allow you to create your own profile, and some even give you your own web page. These profiles allow you to share information about yourself, and make it easy to connect with others who share your interests.

Creating a Support Network via Social Networking

When it comes to types of social networking sites, the sky’s the limit! There are literally hundreds of sites out there, so finding one that fits your particular focus, be it for career exploration, going back to school, job hunting, or political viewpoints, should not be too difficult.

If you are new to social sites, joining a specialty networking site may be your best bet. They are a great way to get your feet wet because you will automatically be paired with Internet users who have similar interests, beliefs, and views to yours.

Most social networking sites are free to use, or at least free to try, so just get out there and see what’s available. If you don’t feel comfortable on a particular site, cancel your membership and try another until you find a good fit.

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