How can I use social networking to help my career and develop professionally?
Social networks shine a light on the inextricability of personal and professional relationships. Your career is as strong as your personal network; and these days, with people spending more and more time at work, your personal life may only be as vital as your professional network.
If you're comfortable breaking down the mythical wall that separates personal life from professional duty, you'll find that social networks can make you happier and more productive on both sides of the equation. The ambient collegiality of status update services (like Twitter or Facebook) bring you into closer contact with your professional peers, until you feel like you're real friends. Old classmates and pals turn up on LinkedIn or Facebook, and become your latest business resource. Get fluent with social networks and discover the power of relationship.
We fell hard for Facebook. It's lived up to our expectations as a way of mixing professional and personal networking.
In the world of online social networks, the word "friend" is a lot less meaningful; it includes your most casual of virtual acquaintances. Until you have a chance to build a certain level of trust with them, respect and affection, your interaction with your online friends (a.k.a. "buddies" or "contacts", depending on which social network you're using) will often be the digital equivalent of nodding at each other as you pass in the hall.
Social networks help you get known for your expertise and judgment, which raises your profile and, potentially, your commercial attractiveness. Just see this example of an expert sharing tips on content tracking with RSS.