How Social Networking Works

Finding and Making Connections

There are three ways to find friends and make connections on social-networking sites:

  1. Invite your offline friends to join
  2. Search for friends who are already members
  3. Find interesting people and ask them to join
    hands on computer
    © Photographer: John Helgason | Agency: Dreamstime
    You can stay in touch from any computer.

Social-networking sites allow you to send e-mails inviting friends to join the Web site and automatically become part of your online social network. Some social-networking sites, like Facebook and LinkedIn, allow you to upload your address book from Webmail accounts like Yahoo!, Gmail and AOL and send invites to all your contacts at once.

You can also make connections by searching the social-networking site for people you know who are already members. Search capabilities differ from site to site, but some ways to search for friends are by:

  • the person's name, screen name or e-mail address
  • high school or college affiliation
  • workplace or organization
  • affiliation with a certain network or group on the Web site

Once you find someone you know, you can send him a message asking them to join your social network. The invitation works both ways. If the other person accepts the invitation, you're automatically added to their social network as well. People can decline your invitation, too.

Changing Profiles
One problem that arises with social-networking sites is that people have profiles on several different sites at once. So, when they change or add information to one profile, they have to change and add on each of the sites on which they have profiles. Some people are calling for a universal profile system that would allow different social networks to access the same profile. OpenID is an early attempt at establishing such a system.

Next, we'll learn how to make connections with new and old friends.