The social network online is only part of the real global social network, which includes human society as a whole. The old email chat acronym, IRL (In Real Life), no longer makes sense, if it ever did. Most of what constitutes human life, such as emotions, reasoning, needs, wants, and commerce, exist online and offline, and often overlap both. Networking online is very similar to networking offline. It’s all about relationships.
As always, the intention is to meet new people, get them to know, like, and trust us, and then to either sell them something or leverage their trust and influence in order to expand our contacts and influence. The most effective way to network is to give first, offer help and value, establish relationships, and become the friend they think of first when they have a need for what we have to offer. Businesses cultivate relationships with their customers and get referrals and repeat business.
The media keep getting faster, more efficient and convenient, more visual, but the human beings on each end of the communication have not changed much in thousands of years. We are all “branding” ourselves on the internet or IRL 😉 as we become known and build a reputation. Once we have developed trust, our influence is powerful. As Stephen Covey says, the speed of trust is amazingly fast.
Online social media are simply NEW MEDIA for communication. The internet in general , and social networks in particular, are the latest in a progression of media which have helped us to overcome distance between people: mail, telegraph, telephone, television, etc. Friends and followers who originally met offline are also communicating online, and vice versa. Meetup.com, Evite, et al, straddle the boundaries between online and offline. Video Conferencing and webcams allow humans to communicate at a distance virtually face-to-face.
Astronauts sent breathtaking photos from the International Space Station to NASA, which posted them on YouTube and sent links via Twitter! The Shuttle Commander invited us to post video questions on YouTube and send a link to his Twitter account. He promised to answer the video questions by video from space! Cross-links and shared content among Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, Youtube, and WordPress are becoming standard operating procedure. Facebook has a group of “Networked Blogs.” You can make Skype calls right from within Facebook. So even the social network is networking with other networks!