Magazine article Communication World

Making It Personal: Building Online Networks Allows Us to Learn More about Our Colleagues and Peers, and Make New Friends in the Process

Magazine article Communication World

Making It Personal: Building Online Networks Allows Us to Learn More about Our Colleagues and Peers, and Make New Friends in the Process

Article excerpt

With the advent of online communication, how we build relationships has changed dramatically. We used to build friendships and a traditional network of contacts over long periods of time. The point of first contact with a new person in your network might have involved as many phone calls as you could place in a typical 40-hour workweek. With e-mail, those relationships evolved a little faster.

Now social networking platforms have accelerated how quickly we interact and gain familiarity with others. Twitter, Facebook, MySpace and YouTube, among others, have humanized the feeling of interacting with people online. We no longer ask a question and wait for a delayed response. We communicate instantly through Twitter. We watch the information that cycles through our news feed in Facebook and look for news and events that affect us in some way. We observe other people's joys and adventures. We get to know intimate details about our online friends--more than we would probably get to know if we met them in person just once.

Intentionally or not, we are building personal brands as we represent ourselves online. Representing ourselves transparently and honestly in this way creates new, trusting friendships with individuals. A glance at what their day-to-day lives are like makes us feel as though we know a little bit more about them. We relate to them through similar life experiences. We have a better feeling of what they're passionate about.

I have always been somewhat introverted and uncomfortable in social situations. I was never a big fan of the happy hours or luncheons, and had never eagerly ventured out to form new relationships until I started to understand how much my network defines me.

About four years ago, I began joining social platforms such as Facebook and LinkedIn. On these sites, it was quite easy to meet people with similar tastes or career goals. …

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