Networking, or, So THIS is what Facebook is for!

Social media is taking over all of our lives.

We upload photos, comment of the goings-on of others’ lives, peak at who our exes are dating, and tweet our opinions and feelings about everything.

While this  is a great way to keep in touch and share our experiences with others, social media has another, often overlooked, function.

Networking.

This is the “seven degrees of Kevin Bacon” method of knowing someone who knows someone who’s got a couch you can crash on, an internship opening, or a spare weekend to teach you how to change the oil in your car.

Facebook and Twitter open users up to a whole ocean of people with just one click. Instead of calling around for hours, I can post something like “Does anyone know a discount furniture store in North Alabama?” and friends can comment with their suggestions.

Connecting people with other people all over the world, Facebook and Twitter are, and I hate to say it, flattening the world.

Thomas Friedman, you win. Here’s how Facebook flattened my world and proved that it can serve as a useful networking tool.

My good friend and sorority sister Meghan is doing a summer program at the same university I studied at in Quito, Ecuador.  She was having some problems meeting people outside of the group from Ole Miss and asked for my help.

I jumped into action and sent messages to Ecuadorean and American friends still in Quito. Within a matter of hours, she had plans with Marcos, an Ecuadorean friend, and Ben, one of my fellow study-abroaders. A few  hours later she had connected with another Ecuadorean friend, Priscilla,  and had made plans to go out.

From across the Gulf of Mexico, I managed to connect Americans and Ecuadorians in only a few minutes of typing, without even picking up a phone.  Sure, this way is a little less personal, but I would give up the voice-to voice contact for speed any day.

We are really shifting into a more global, yet more connected society. I’m an exaggerated example, but my parents live in Shanghai, China, I have a cousin in the foreign service in Mumbai, India, and I’m in a major where my friends are constantly going to different countries.  Phones will never be obsolete, but clearly the internet will be indispensable in the next few decades as social media expands and changes how we keep in touch.

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