When Social Networks Are Actually Used for Social Networking

-Facebook LinkedIn Logos-We’ve seen so many social networks launch in the past four years, it makes even my head spin. But one key differentiating factor between many of the peripheral social networks and the major players like Facebook is the actual ability to network. Socially.

The benefits of social networking (with a purpose) began to come into focus when MySpace musicians found they could connect with each other and audiences on a professional level. And when it comes to social networking for the rest of the professionals out there, LinkedIn is the place to go. Even though Facebook hasn’t always had the best format for direct networking with the purpose of finding a job, it’s still very useful for this objective. So now that millions of people across the U.S. are in need of a job, no thanks to our current economic crisis, many are turning to Facebook and LinkedIn for recommendations and job leads.

Such a twist isn’t really all that ironic–those services that prove core to consumers are the ones that will survive the downturned market. But what’s interesting is the new mainstream focus on social networking as it’s being used for real social networking. MSNBC has a full article on how you can best utilize social networks for finding a job. It seems obvious, but since social networks have been used for so many other things (photo-sharing, event planning and promotions, marketing), that we sometimes forget that leveraging your real connections can lead to virtual networking in the productive sense.

This could be a great opportunity for Facebook to take its social graph to the next level, perhaps even focusing on some of the networking capabilities that enable users to meet those that can be most helpful–beyond the recommended friends section of one’s homepage.

LinkedIn is of course more equipped to handle the job-specific needs of a user seeking work or growth of one’s network, but it’s also been adding more features that look similar to Facebook’s in terms of staying informed to one’s social graph activity. Even though both Facebook and LinkedIn have not been fully immune to the woes of our current market, having features that appeal to job-seekers may further insulate these networks for the long haul.