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Social Networking 201

Social networking can be overwhelming and time consuming if you are new to it or unfamiliar with the latest tips and tricks. You should know that many social networks are building applications these days that link to one another and when you update one, you essentially can update them all in one click.

Let’s talk about Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Facebook is a great place to connect with old friends that you haven’t reached out to in years. It’s also good for letting your current personal network know what you are up to by just updating your status. Your “status” in Facebook, is equivalent to a “post” on Twitter and also to “network update” in LinkedIn. But let’s take one step at a time.

Facebook profiles can be set up easily and you choose to display as much information as you want. Additionally, a few months back Facebook finally introduced new security settings that essentially let you manage who can see your status updates, your pictures and your personal identifiable information such as your email, marital status, or birthday. You can set up Facebook to make it so that anyone can contact you and become your friend (referred to as “Friending” someone). Or you can make it so secure that you have to “friend” them in order for them to see your profile. Additionally, Facebook also hosts a plethora of applications and games that make it fun for you to social network. Games that are offered are mostly free such as FarmVille, Mafia Wars, Bejeweled, and even Texas Hold’em. Facebook users also have access to group pages that when you join allow you to connect with other people that say went to your grade school or grew up in the same neighborhood as you or have an affinity for wine. It also offers causes to get involved in.

Now Twitter started out as just a status update posting service. It has a post feature that is only 140 characters. The idea behind it is that it functions much like instant messaging did five years ago. Many people also use it for social updates such as to tell their friends where they are in an instant, rather than text messaging 10 people from your cell phone. Yet, many businesses use it to promote causes, new product offerings, or just news updates. In fact, more and more companies are using it to self promote. Everyone from Paris Hilton to Oprah is using it. Twitter also offers the ability to post links, but when the links are longer than 140 characters they encourage you to use a free service called Tiny URL which takes any url link no matter how long and automatically converts it to 26 characters giving you 114 characters to say what you need to say in your post. Twitter also offers the ability to share photos through TwitPic, find other people who are talking about things you are interested in by using TweetDeck or Mr.Tweet and create polls and post surveys via TwtPoll.

LinkedIn is an interconnected network of people that have the same interests as you or colleagues that you’d like to keep in touch with. LinkedIn also allows you to join groups of interest such as cancer groups, career groups or alumni groups. Anyone can create a group too. If you are using it for your career then you can get recommendations on work you’ve done so that prospective employers can see your potential. But you can use the network update field to let people know what books you are reading, a conference you are attending, or anything else you think others in your network might find interesting.

The beauty of LinkedIn and Facebook is that if you have a Twitter account you can easily link them and it will update your status, post and network update in all three places at the same time.

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