The Internet, first known as ARPANET, has been in use since the 1960’s, when the first message was sent from a University of California laboratory. In 1982, the Internet protocol suite (TCP/IP) was standardized, and consequently, the concept of a world-wide network of interconnected TCP/IP networks, called the Internet, was introduced. Sometime around 1993 consumers and businesses gained access to the Internet. It has since grown into a major channel for business and personal communication, and has had a significant impact on regular mail delivery, face-to-face communication, phone usage, shopping, and research. Over time the Internet expanded from a method for purchasing, sourcing information, paying invoices, and e-mail communication into a platform for networking among friends, business associates, and family though social network services.

    Social Networking is similar to attending various onsite networking events (both social and business):- making new contacts, getting business cards, and then following up to build relationships on common interests or business opportunities. The difference is that today’s networking efforts are increasingly online vs. onsite.

    A social network service is an online service, platform, or site that facilitates the building of social networks among people who may share interests, activities, backgrounds, or real-life connections. Bebo, Facebook, LinkedIn, Yelp, Yammer, YouTube, Flixster, Flickr, Foursquare, Myspace, Plaxo, Ryze, Twitter, and Google+ are just a few of the many services available today. They make connecting easier but also make gossip and negative comments spread easier as well. It takes upfront effort to research today’s social networks to identify those that best meet your career and personal interests.

    Social network services ask for a profile for each user, the user’s social and/or business links, and offer a variety of additional services. The network may include an online community as well as an individual-centered profile, and contacts. These services make it a lot easier for people to stay current on changes to careers, families, interests, and demographics without communicating by mail or phone. They also help job seekers identify contacts in organizations of interest for information and assistance.

    After selecting your social network services, time is needed to get acquainted with the site, publish a profile, identify friends or connections, and set up different levels of privacy. Social networking websites offer various ways to find friends or connections through search features, which may seek contacts through hobby interests, demographics, age, industry, and special interest groups. Sites are all different and demand detailed reading and review. Social networks offer the ability to easily join various groups and discussion boards as well as templates for writing blogs. Friends of friends may also want to “friend” others, and it is important to review the profile of anyone wanting to connect even if they are a friend or connection of a known person or group.

    Social networking travels with some real dangers and it is important to know that social network services are working to thwart cybercriminals. Spam advertisements, theft of social network account credentials, loss of private data, and disappearance of money are just a few of the possible security issues. Account phishing is when an attacker sets up a website that is identical to the login page of the targeted social network site, and then spams a link to it via email or messages purportedly from the social network itself. The attacker can now impersonate the original users, send messages to their friends, persuade friends to follow a link, and install a malicious program.

    To sum up, it is vital to” know before you go” that safe social networking requires: management of your profile and contacts; acting professionally on all service network sites; staying on top of new threats; reading all literature provided by the social network site; and protecting your privacy.

    This article is part of the monthly series authored by ISM’s Logistics & Transportation Group Board Members, who are current practitioners, consultants, trainers, and educators. In future columns, they will continue sharing their views on a number of Supply Chain topics.

    Marilyn Gettinger is owner of New Directions Consulting Group, an organization offering customized workshops and a team-oriented consulting method to assist organizations in being successful in their global supply chains management. She can be reached at, or (908)-709-0656, or,