How Social Media WorksAccording to Wikipedia (itself a social media site), social media includes web-based and mobiletechnologies that are used to turn communication into interactive dialogue betweenorganizations, communities and individuals.Examples include blogs, podcasts, virtual gamingworlds, photo sharing sites and services like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Pinterest.Here is a simple guide to the hows and whys of what social media can do for you:1. Social media enables you to own your online brand. One of the reasons social media is so important is because people are searching for you online. By setting up and managing a social media presence with a blog, LinkedIn profile, Twitter feed, etc., you can control what people learn about you, rather than leaving your online image to chance.2. Social media facilitates reunions. Lose touch with an old friend? Seeking to reconnect with a former colleague who would be a great fit at your new company? Want to make sure you don’t lose touch with prospects you meet at a networking event? Connecting with these people on social media provides the chance to be in touch with those you might not see on a regular basis. Through social media, you can stay on people’s radar screens over time and easily get in touch when you’d like.3. Social media makesvisible your “friends of friends.”If success is often based on “who you know, not what you know,” social media makes it much easier to see who you really know. On social media sites, you connect with your friends, which then allows you to view those friends’ networks. You can then request introductions to people a few degrees of separation away, such as potential employers or social acquaintances.4. Social media encourages a “share mentality.” Whenever you see an interesting article, register to attend an event, read a great book, travel to a new place, come across a meaningful quote or learn something exciting, social media gives you the ability to share that information quickly and efficiently with the people in your network. In turn, your network will share information, ideas and opportunities with you, leading to mutual benefit.5. Social media amplifies your message. If you create any type of content -- blog posts, podcasts, photographs, recipes, music, etc. --share it on an appropriate social media site so that your connections can share the content with their connections and enable your content to receive as many views as possible. Similarly, when your organization produces content, share it with your networks to support the brand of your company.6. Social media creates serendipity. When you “check in” at a restaurant on FourSquare or Facebook, RSVP to a conference on LinkedIn or tweet to your followers that you are in a new city, you give yourself the opportunity to connect with people who are nearby. This gives you the chance to make new in-person connections or uncover synergies you might not have found otherwise.7. Social media should be enjoyable. Remember that social media should add to your life, so only use the social networks that are relevant to you. Don’t feel the need to jump on every new network unless you’ll really benefit from that community. Not sure which networks are best for you? See where your real live friends and colleagues are connecting online and that’s a good start.