As I explained yesterday, an ongoing discussion I have with my older clients is the difficulty they encounter in integrating the Internet into their lives. Unfamiliarity, discomfort and, sometimes, fear tend to keep people who did not grow up in the internet age from understanding that the web IS "real life." We have discussed utilizing the web as a quick reference, now, let's talk about how the web helps us stay in touch with people we want or need to stay in touch with.
Maybe you're tired of hearing the term "social networking." The important thing to remember is that this is simply the online version of something we have always done - networking - as in making friends, developing contacts, and expanding our outreach.
I have recently been able to reconnect with some of my friends from grade-school whom I'd lost touch with. Yes, I know most people don't keep in touch with people they knew in grade school - these, however, were truly special friends who helped me through a difficult time, and who were almost like family, and I was so happy to hear from them again, after 25+ years. We found we still have a lot in common, in addition to a shared history. We reconnected on Facebook. At first it was a bit awkward, because there was nothing even remotely like Facebook available when we last spoke (in the early '80's). We relied on (very expensive) long-distance phone calls, and (very time-consuming) hand-written letters, and most of us weren't very good at keeping up with that over the long haul. Facebook, however, gives us the opportunity to stay in touch in a much more "natural" way, by clicking "like" on photos posted online of our families, or commenting on current events. It brings our long-time childhood friendships into the year 2010, and has been a lot of fun.
In addition to personal friendships, the web is currently the best way to stay in touch with higher-education classmates and colleagues, with whom we can develop mutually-beneficial professional networks. Linked IN is a very good site for professional networking. The features allow users to make recommendations and share industry-related news, as well as expand and develop their list of professional contacts.
Join us for the rest of the week as we discuss using the web in our "real" lives in finances, shopping, and entertainment.
Jennifer Pointer (e-mail) is a trainer and tech writer in Tulsa, OK. She promotes a simple, a low-tech approach to effective online profile management, search engine optimization and social networking. Her weakness is the mocha frappuccino.