Social networking only connects you with friends? Myspace and Facebook are just for kids? That stuff is such a “waste of time”. People only go there to “hook up”.
Those are some of the typical responses I hear from people that are less educated about advances in technology, changes in the global workforce, and panic when they loose their job. Well it goes further than just making connections with old friends. Say for example now mid 2009 and people are out of work due to the economy issues we are all facing. Social media / web 2.0 sites like Facebook, Myspace, Linkedin, Plaxo, Twitter, etc all allow for you to network for a job amongst friends you may have lost contact with. People also used to only have home phones and were land line based meaning no cell phones. Remember phone books? Know many people that use them still? How about the home phone with 50 feet of line going through the house that you tripped on when you walked through the room. When your old contacts number changed, people got married and changed from their maiden names, and people took that cool invention of the air plane then moved meant we lost touch.
Some spouses are so insecure that, say for example my ex-wife, they wanted me not to talk with old friends because something might “rekindle” through those old friends. So after a while of not talking with those people they changed numbers via new cell phone companies, moved due to the world being “flat” and jobs are spread out, and /or moved away for school. So I lost touch with those people through my own circumstance. When my situation changed, i.e. got divorced, it was well before these social networking sites came around. I could not find most of my old friends anywhere. Well that all changed once these resources became more popular. Soon you will see every industry being connected in this fashion. Companies, due to baby boomers aging out of the job market, count on “us” to network with people to aid in their recruitment efforts and keep down their recruiting costs.
Companies will rely more and more on peer social networks to help build customer base as well as brand loyalty. I now work as a Community Manager managing such networks. My kids will grow up more connected than ever and they will have to purposely not connect with someone to loose touch with them. If we all still lived and grew up in the same little towns as many people did generations ago then I could see the point of not connecting with people through these resources. My family was skeptical as well. Over time they have seen me grow this from a hobby to a well paying career.
My family moved out of Austin, my home town, and lives around the country now. But they along with my friend in North Dakota that used to live here or my dad in Ohio or even friends stationed over seas can log on to my profiles and see updates on my life. No longer do you have to blast emails out of the new pictures of the kids. You can upload those allowing friends and family to comment on their time rather than filling up their inbox. No longer do you have to say to yourself “I wish I knew someone that worked at XYZ Company because I would love to work there”. If you invest some time in building these networks you too can turn a hobby into a new job opportunity when you need one.
So if someone you know doesn’t understand the “power” of social networking then maybe this will help explain it to them. My mother always says it’s not what you know it’s who you know and never has that been more important than today. If your spouse is worried about you rekindling something with someone from the past then maybe they should not let you leave the house. You might just run into John or Jane Dough from the old days at the local gas station.