Social media has been a valuable part of my career development. I joined Facebook and LinkedIn a several years ago and have since built up a network of family, friends, past and present coworkers, classmates, and professional acquaintances. The best example of using social media for networking and creating a sense of community occurred when I was working on my MLS online. My classmates and I were all on the same “track” and were in the same classes each term. We created a Facebook group to ask questions about assignments, vent our concerns and frustrations, share information, and help one another. Although we were spread across the country, we were able to get to know one another and provide a support structure similar to a traditional classroom.
I see both advantages and disadvantages to using social media. The advantages include connecting people who are far apart, creating a fast and easy method of communication, providing a low pressure way to communicate, especially for those who are shy, and providing a fun way to keep in touch and share with others. The disadvantages include replacing the intimacy of face-to-face contact with hands-off online communication and the occasional misinterpretation in communications. In my mind, the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages.
I plan to continue using social media for career development and appreciate that these free, easy-to-use tools are available to us.