Social networking seems to be the "in" thing these days. You have lots of choices; Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, Twitter and others.
I have to admit, I've got all of them. Do I spend a lot of time with them? Sometimes more than I should. Have they been helpful? Most definitely.
LinkedIn is new to me and I haven't explored its full potential. There are some writers who say it's a great resource and a way to get information from experts. One of these days, I will take the time to figure it out. For now, I've got the account, but that's all.
Twitter is a miniblog to which I've subscribed since the beginning of the year. What I don't understand is the people who claim to follow over 1,000 people. I have a hard enough time keeping up with the 95 I'm following. Some people will post everything from what they had for lunch to the time they're picking their children up from school. Others post useful links to articles and information. If you decide to Twitter, be sure you follow someone who will help you out. If you get a lot of useless posts, stop following that person. You want the miniblog to help you, not slow you down.
MySpace was one of the original networking sites, or so I've heard. I decided to sign up for it after attending a writers' conference. Many attendees had MySpace pages and touted how useful it was for networking. I haven't found it easy to navigate, and there are too many ads for my taste. I've made a few friends, but I don't feel like it has been that great for networking.
Facebook is another networking site. It's my understanding it was originally designed for college graduates to keep in touch. Now, it has surpassed MySpace as "the" networking site. I have connected with over 300 other writers around the world. Many of these people have agreed to be experts and responded to interviews for articles I've written. I've chatted with and gotten tips from many of them. They have become a support system for me. I find Facebook much easier to navigate than MySpace. Previously, as a rural writer, I found it hard to connect, unless I was at a conference, with other writers. With Facebook, I've found that connection. I admit I sometimes waste time there, like playing some of the games and following through when I've been "tagged" by someone in a note. For the most part, though, I have found it a useful tool, and I will keep visiting.
If you want to network, check out various sites. Talk to other people to see what they prefer and why. Find out what works best for your needs. Then, determine how much time is too much time. Limit yourself. If you find you're networking more than writing, set a limit. Visit the site once a day for an hour. Write, edit, send out queries first, then check your networking sites.