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Why Get Involved With Online Social Networking?

Social Networking... Why?

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Facebook is one of the most popular online social networking websites.

Facebook provides everything from a place to connect with friends to a way to play backgammon with them. (Image of Facebook)

Social Networking is all the rage these days, but many people still do not understand what all the fuss is about. From the outside looking in, it would seem that online social networking is all about spending a lot of time doing nothing. But once you understand that a social network is as much of a place as it is an activity, all of that begins to change.

Online Social Networks Are Your Home on the Web

The difficulty most people have in understanding online social networking is that they view websites as having a specific purpose, like CNN.com for news and YouTube.com for videos and Flickr.com for photos. But social networks like MySpace and Facebook don't provide a specific use so much as a they provide you with a home on the web.

Think of e-mail as a P.O. box on the web. A P.O. box is a very handy way of receiving letters from people, but you aren't going to invite people to your P.O. box to look at your family photo albums. You are going to invite them over to your home.

That is what an online social network provides: a small piece of the web that you can call your own. You can use it to keep up with a blog, to let your friends and family know what you are up to, and even to share photos from your recent vacation.

And because a social network does most of the heavy lifting for you, it is much easier to maintain than a personal website.

Online Social Networks Are Good For Friends and Family

The great thing about online social networking is that it provides an easy way to keep up with friends and family. If you live a busy life, it can be difficult to keep in touch with everyone and still get everything done that needs your attention. Online social networking allows you to add people as friends so that you can easily keep in touch with them.

They can also provide a great destination for families to keep in touch, share information and photographs, and even plan family reunions or get togethers. Social networks such as MyFamily.com are designed with this specific purpose in mind. You can even create your own social network using Ning and use this to keep in touch with your family. (Sound hard? It's really easier than it sounds!)

Online Social Networks Are Good For Business

Social networking has always been a great business asset. Just think back to the number of jobs and business opportunities you learned about from friends and colleagues. And online social networking is no different. Social networks like LinkedIn are designed around the business aspects of social networking and are being used more and more by HR departments to locate talented employees.

Social networks are also at the core of something called "social media marketing." This is a way of marketing products through social media sites like social networks, blogs, widgets and other social websites. If you run your own business, or if you just sell a few odds and ends on eBay every once in a while, having a social network presence can help out.

Online Social Networks Are Good For Having Fun

Let's not leave out the fun factor. Entertainment has always been at the core of the social networking experience, and as social networks become more sophisticated, there is a huge potential for having fun while socially networking.

Facebook is quickly becoming the platform of choice for casual gaming. With the ability to easily manage having a chess match with a friend even if they live halfway across the world, it is easy to see why Facebook games are so popular.

But having fun on social networks isn't limited to just games. Niche social networks can match your interests with social networking. Love movies? Try out Flixster and play the never-ending trivia game. Like music? Let Last.FM help you discover new bands similar to the music you like. A sports nut? FanIQ will let you show the world just how much you know about sports.

Online Social Networks And You

Whether you are looking for a way to stay connected with your family, or you are looking for a way to put your comprehensive knowledge of famous movie quotes to good use, online social networking can be a great choice.

The following links can help you learn more about the ins and outs of social networking:

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