Social networking requires commitment

Getting involved is the key to making social-networking tools work

My first experiences with social networking had nothing to do with technology. It happened in Bernice Tolliver’s kitchen in Harrisonburg, Va.

I was working as a reporter and her son was a photographer. Andrew would take me to his mom’s house for our dinner break. I’d tell her what story I was working on and, more times than not, she’d nod, and say, "You know, you should call so and so."

She seemed to know everyone in that town. If she didn’t know you directly, she knew your child or your parents.

She was good at adding the human face to a story, such as the time I mentioned I was working on a story about an abandoned quarry that was now surrounded by townhouse complexes. The quarry was overgrown and full of trash, which was drawing many complaints.

Bernice was the one who sent me to the family of a child who drowned in the quarry nearly 30 years earlier.

She never owned a computer or cell phone, but Bernice knew how to stay connected, mostly because she cared deeply about her community.

And that’s the reason social networking — now powered by technology tools such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook — works so well.

As our cover stories in this issue demonstrate, social networking works when you get involved. Like Bernice, you have to care about your community.

About the Author

Nick Wakeman is the editor-in-chief of Washington Technology. Follow him on Twitter: @nick_wakeman.

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