Online networks have created an easy and efficient way for people to come together and to keep in touch. My grandma had never even touched a computer, but she realized the best way to hear from her grandchildren on a regular basis was to embrace technology. She now has a laptop and an active Facebook page.
I opened a Facebook account about four years ago. I almost immediately reconnected with a good friend from high school that I’d lost touch with after a move. Since then, I have friended (and unfriended) coworkers, friends, classmates, and family members. I have seen Facebook’s value in a variety of uses. When I was working on my Master’s degree online, my classmates (who lived all over the country) and I created a Facebook group to communicate with and support one another. An artist I know uses Facebook to share his work. The library has a page to keep patrons informed. I use Facebook for sharing pictures and keeping in touch. If you’re smart about what you post and use the custom privacy settings, Facebook is a great way to connect with people.
I opened a LinkedIn account in 2008 when I was preparing to move and looking for a new job. It has been a great networking tool. If I meet someone new in a professional capacity, I try to connect with them. I consider a LinkedIn profile to be a glorified business card- a reminder of who you are and how they know you- that won’t be lost or thrown away. Any time I consider applying for a job, I check LinkedIn to see if any of my connections work for that company or know anyone who does. I often wonder if potential employers do the same to me. If they do, I feel better knowing I have a professional, updated profile. In addition to networking, I have joined several “groups” on LinkedIn. Following discussions on different aspects of the library profession has been interesting and helpful. I would like to continue building connections on LinkedIn; if you would like to connect, my profile is located at http://www.linkedin.com/in/bethanygrabow.
I know some people are hesitant to have a presence on online networks, but I have enjoyed my experiences and would encourage everyone to give it a try.