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 Nsta Research into 'Gap year style' volunteering for the over 50s - what can we learn?       Debora
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‘ Network: A chain of interconnected persons ’
(Pocket Oxford)
‘Networking’ is a word used in both a social and a business context.    Even if you are not an avid user you will certainly have heard of the huge social networking sites which have become part of the daily life of a lot of people – an estimated 42 million in Europe, a sizeable chunk of them teenagers.   Less used by  the 50 plus  age group, although possibly  that may  change as we  grow more  computer literate and  less constrained at sharing our thoughts in public.   I'm told that John Prestcott now records his gym visits and other vital matters on Facebook,  but whether that is a bull or a bear point for Facebook is unclear.
In business, networking is recognized as an essential tool and is not confined to chatting up your fellow guests at a drinks party. There are a number of online sites which can help you here:-
 PRIME is a not-for-profit company dedicated to helping people over 50 to set up in business           http://www.primeinitiative.co.uk/     It also has a 'business club' aimed at people over 50 who are setting up or running their own businesses.   http://www.primebusinessclub.com/
will give you 'all the information you need' to start and grow a business from home, and build a network with other home business owners.   Emma Jones writes a weekly advice column to keep you focussed.     
If you are missing the networking of office life take a look at http://www.ecademy.com 
which aims to offer an online business network and claims that half its membership are self employed professionals.       
 ‘Linked In’  is a  US business networking  site but is interested to expand in Europe and is particularly relevant if you are seeking to expand your business opportunities globally . www.linkedin.com/static?key=company_info
Xing is a German site, with a greater emphasis on networking, including meeting offline. http://www.xing.com/   
http://www.4networking.biz/welcome/ is a site which offers “ a business and personal support network – all the support and services you need to help your business grow”.
www.bttradespace.com combines being a business directory for small businesses (a sort of eBay) with being a focus for existing and new communities which would like to attract like-minded individuals. 
Social Networking :
see our topic page on Making Friends
social networking sites:
www.twitter.com    record your thoughts and activities in not more than 140 characters