The Definition of Social Networking

What do we mean when we say social networking? I haven’t been able to find an authoritative reference that feels right, so I thought I’d take a shot at the definition.

Wiktionary includes, among its definitions of social networking, “the interaction between a group of people who share a common interest.” That is a good start, but the word interest seems a bit too narrow to me.

I prefer to start with Wikipedia’s definition of the term social network:

“A social network is a social structure made up of individuals (or organizations) called ‘nodes’, which are tied (connected) by one or more specific types of interdependency, such as friendship, kinship, common interest, financial exchange, dislike, sexual relationships, or relationships of beliefs, knowledge or prestige.”

This implies that the term social networking means navigating a social network.

A simpler way to define social networking might be to say that:

Social networking is communicating while being mindful of relationships among people.

I can live with that definition, and would like to use it as the basis for my future discussions of the topic. Is it consistent with how you use the term social networking?

Lenny Zeltser


About the Author

Lenny Zeltser develops products and programs that use security to achieve business results. He is the CISO at Axonius and Faculty Fellow at SANS Institute. Lenny has been leading efforts to establish resilient security practices and solve hard security problems for over two decades. A respected author and practitioner, he has been advancing tradecraft and contributing to the community. His insights build upon real-world experience, a Computer Science degree from the University of Pennsylvania, and an MBA degree from MIT Sloan.

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