Confused or still hesitant about the growing trend of online social networking, then check out this Law.com article Social Networking May Pay Off in the End. It appears that even the skeptics are being converted.
What the article doesn’t point out though is that online social networking is like letting people read your mind and thus a wonderful form of communication. When someone invites you into their network, it is the equivalent of being giving permission to get inside their heads (to the extent that they participate). By publishing and/or reading a person’s stream of activity, a lot is revealed and trust is exchanged.
If you already have a trusting relationship in the real world with somebody then you can easily transplant that relationship into the new environment of an online social networking site and watch it grow. If you don’t have trust or social capital with someone, then you can demonstrate trustworthiness through mind revealing actions (profile, Q&A, referrals, recommendations, & groups) on the site.
Different sites allow you to lead with different facets of yourself. If you express your relationship with someone only on LinkedIn, my guess is that you each reveal a 90-120 degree view of yourselves with a focus on your professional life. On Facebook, that same 90-120 degree view is usually focused on one’s personal life. What many fail to appreciate is that belonging to a combination of personal/professional sites with many of the same people increases not only the depth of the relationship but it increases the amount of insight into each other’s minds.
Do you help people read your mind?