Online Communities Can Enrich Your Offline Life

Summer's arrival means not only longer days and empty campuses, but a chance to regroup, recover, and rediscover the fine art of making connections.

In previous posts, we've talked a bit about cleaning up social media profiles to put the best possible face into the world. But social media, and the social opportunities that have their genesis online, are positive ways of creating new relationships, both personally and professionally.

The most prominent professional social media network is LinkedIn. Hundreds of thousands of professionals of all types have profiles here. Connections may be made around the corner, or around the world. The site also offers a platform for groups of almost any imaginable type. Check some out. Some are open to all, others require a group administrator's’ approval. Once in a group, one can expect to find like-minded professions with broad to narrow interests. And, consider stepping up to become a group administrator or moderator yourself. That task will give you the chance to approve requests for new members, and to moderate discussions. It also makes a great addition to any resume or vitae.

MeetUps are also a great way to find new people with specific interests. These groups are found online, but get together in person. MeetUp groups take place in almost every city, and in most places, represent a diversity of opportunities to learn something new, or find a group of like-minded individuals.  Some groups enjoy hiking or craft beer, while others meet to dispense business advice or advance networking opportunities. Historians, chefs and devotees of a variety of sports and games find MeetUp groups that appeal to them.

So for pleasure or to make new business connection, online communities might be good ways to advance your career in real life.

Kimberley Sirk is a North Carolina-based writer and editor with government, higher education and big-brand healthcare public relations and marketing experience.

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