What benefit has the social networking at Ning and other places afforded you?

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It's fun. That's all.

Some writers seem to treat it as a promotional tool, but I question the value in that.

To me, it's just a way to connect with other writers and agree on or debate subjects that might be of mutual interest.
I've discovered a lot of writers I hadn't known about before. lots of good recommendations here.
Yes. I come here to talk about writing. It's a great place. Self-promotion is not my thing.
I think some of them are great and supply benefit for some. As most of us know, social networking is a way to get the word out about a product or service. Or friendship and connecting with this or that. And for whatever your needs are. They can reach an audience far beyond your front door. As for me, I think more people know my name, if not the books that I have written. I have made friends with many like minded people. I find them interesting and essential. But still, we all have to be extra careful to whom we converse with online.
I don't participate here as much as I'd like (I run an online writers group that has my first attention), but I've made connections with a few writers here which I like to think have benefited both me and them. I'm a big believer in networking, both online and in real life.
In my opinion, using messageboards as a promotional tool is a total waste of time.
We write in isolation. It's, like, one of the rules. So then, when you stick your head up from your writing and look around and see... community, there's something special in that. Something empty that gets filled. And all without ever leaving your desk. Bloody amazing. (Bloody addictive, too. Which is why I don't play here as much as I would like.)
I've had lots and lots of glamorous, rough sex with highly placed writers, publishers, and editors, that have all gone on to blurb or publish my best-selling series, HOW I SOLD THIS BOOK TO YOU, allowing me to purchase and rename my own personal island, which came preconfigured with its own set of internet laws.

Seriously, I've come to know a lot of people in that bottle-necked way that the internet encourages. Hopefully I'll meet some of them in person one day, but in the mean time, I have a lot of fun here, all from the comfort of my desk at work (cough) at home.

And who knows, one day I might have a novel published that you'll all have to buy or I'll boot you off.

(please don't hit me, I'm only joking, can't you see the smile on my face, hear the lilt to my voice, no please, don't hit me, don't hit me, nooooooooo)

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