What is this thing called “social networking”?

When I click through my emails and see random invitations from former colleagues to reconnect through Linked In and what seems like trillions of other social and business networking sites, I feel A.) Guity when I ignore them or B.) Ridiculous when I accept them and subsequently ignore the people who sent them.

He's quite the social butterfly

Somehow, I’ve managed to get through almost 63 years and network my own way–in person and on the phone. I think of networking as far more than clicking an accept button on a computer.

Sure, it’s nice to see a name from the past belonging to someone you really adored, like Mitch. We worked together as young reporters 30 years ago and we’d stay late most every night, critiquing each other’s copy.

Mitch and I lost touch (life has a way of getting in the way), but I’ve thought of him over the years and accepted his Linked In invitation right away. After a flurry of e-mails back and forth, I realized I don’t have time right now to fit Mitch back into my life, as much as that would probably be a wonderful experience.

What I had with Mitch will stay with me forever. Those late-night sessions had a far greater impact than any e-mail exchange could ever have.

Maybe Mitch and I will see one another some day, perhaps when i don’t have to spend time opening e-mail invitations.

I love you Mitch, but FOF women still prefer to network the old-fashioned way, face to face.

15 Responses to “What is this thing called “social networking”?”

  1. Hid Kit says:

    Network is really a good thing. Nowadays, we can not live on any more if we leave it.

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  2. Geri says:

    Hi Kate,

    I understand why you like LinkedIn and Facebook. I also agree about technology keeping you “close’ to some people. I still prefer one-on-one emails, for pics too. But I prefer hearing their voices even more. That ole phone technology still appeals to me.

    Geri

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  3. Kate Putnam says:

    I have learned a lot from my LinkedIn connections. They give me answers to business questions and a chance to discuss things important to my business with people I am not going to see face to face soon. It is just another way to connect and sometimes to help or be helped. It is not the same as face to face.
    That said, I keep LinkedIn for business and Facebook for family and friends. On Facebook, I can share pictures of my grandson or a trip we took with friends who are scattered all over the globe. I can also see their pictures and know a little of what is happening in their lives.
    Technology keeps me close to some people who are no longer physically proximate.
    I think you are shortchanging yourself and Mitch, Geri.

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  4. Duchesse says:

    I don’t believe that a Linked In invitation necessitates a reunion. Just ‘found’ someone like your Mitch, after at least a decade. Learned he lost his exec job in the recession. He would never have contacted me to tell me, and it occurs to me that these online networks are a way for men to reach out and connect as women ALWAYS have.

    IMO, most men do not cherish and nurture their friendships with the care seems more natural to women. They leave it to chance or their partners.

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    • Geri says:

      Hi Duchesse,

      AH-men!

      Geri

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      • Linda McCoy says:

        I’m not a fan of Facebook, but I think Linkedin does have value for those who are unemployed. It is a way to post your previous experience or endorse a former co-worker. Maybe for some desperately seeking jobs in a really tough economy, joining these groups gives them a purpose to get up in the morning and do something regarding their job search. A little hope never hurt anyone.
        I like the Linkedin updates, it let’s me know when good things happen to people, or they have a business announcement to make. If I was starting a new company or hiring where I presently work I would use it to reach out to talented people I was connected to.

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  5. Lois says:

    The thing about Linked In that annoys me, is that people seem to be trying to rack up as many connections as they can; they don’t really care about you, just that they have added you to their list. I have emailed several people who have asked me to join their network, and have not had a response from a single one. If you don’t care enough about me to respond, how do you expect me to care about you?

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    • Geri says:

      Everyone is making such great points. I love it!

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  6. Deb Kent says:

    And then there’s the problem of “friending” all these people on Facebook only to discover that you’re as uninterested in them now as you were in fifth grade. I’m on Facebook looking at updates on the small handful of people I actually like, and notice that sixteen other people are also online, ready to chat, and I think: Oh God, please don’t start chatting with me. If I saw you in the supermarket I would be ignoring you.

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    • Deb Kent says:

      I feel compelled to add: I’d be ignoring you – not because I don’t like you, but I don’t know you. At all. You sent me a FB friend request and I accepted because I didn’t want to hurt your feelings but now that we’re both online at the same time I realize I have nothing to say to you, but I feel oddly and inappropriately intimate with you because we’re now inhabiting the same small square of digital space on my computer screen. And it feels weird.

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      • Geri says:

        Deb,

        You always put things sooooo beautifully.

        G

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  7. Someone says:

    (Actually, it’s “hear, hear…” as in “that’s something you should listen to!”)

    But umm…I’m not -quite- 50 (I’m 46) so I’m not exactly qualified, but I will point out that it doesn’t have to be either-or.

    I don’t understand the pitting of online networking against the old fashioned kind. You can do both, and they can enhance each other. Online connection can make real-life networking easier, less small-talky by getting the little stuff out of the way fast, and you can find people that you never would have otherwise, who you THEN can meet in person if you want.

    What’s the upside to turning one’s back on a current tool?

    I may be getting older, but I don’t have a problem with change.

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    • Geri says:

      Hi Someone,

      Your point is well taken. I have no problem with change and I’m 15 years older than you are. (I used to publish magazines and now I’ve launched a website). I turned my back on some things back in the day, too. I love the internet. But not every part of “current” is everyone’s cup of tea.

      Geri

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  8. Maureen@IslandRoar says:

    Here, here!

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    • Geri Brin says:

      Thank you, my dear Maureen.

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