With platforms like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn each providing service to millions of users, social networking has taken on a completely different meaning than it held in the past, holding the ability to elevate--or conversely, kill--a business in real time. Although many experts focus on the quantifiable advantages you can get from online social engagement, psychological benefits are available from connecting with others on the Internet, too. Every step of the process--setting up a profile, finding followers, creating content and utilizing feedback--has something to offer.

1. You gain a deeper sense of self and confidence.

R. Kay Green of The Huffington Post notes that there's a danger of gaining a false sense of self-esteem from creating profiles based on your "ideal" self, or the person or business you wish you were, rather than based on your real self, or who you actually are. But as long as you stay authentic as you focus on, clearly define and display your strengths, positive feedback you get on your personal "sell points" can give you an appropriate, well-deserved confidence boost and sense of belonging.

2. You might become a better analyst.

Social networking in person or through non-Internet channels still holds enormous value, but it simply doesn't have the capacity for quantity that online social networking does. Statista, for instance, notes that the number of worldwide social media users is expected to reach 2.95 billion by 2020. Furthermore, the typical CEO has an average of 930 LinkedIn contacts, and 58% of top brands have more than 100,000 Twitter followers. These connections can be from anywhere on the globe. As you try to build up a following, you can touch base with people from all walks of life and backgrounds. The exposure to many different people might help you consider alternate points of view or additional possibilities, contributing to a more open mind and better analysis of your customers or situation.

3. You learn to get to the point and stay more goal-focused.

A study by Jakob Neilsen and John Morkes found that when a sample website was written concisely, usability improved by 58%. Similarly, making the text more scannable and objective improved usability by 47% and 27%, respectively. Many social networking sites force you to acknowledge these reader preferences as you create your content. Twitter, for example, allows just 140 characters. It's difficult to conform to these guidelines without identifying the real heart of and purpose behind your message, so social networking can get you to think more critically about your business goals and what you want to prioritize. With your goals clarified in your mind, you also can make more concrete plans, which can keep stress at bay.

Additionally, every time you post content, you can reflect on whether that content represents who you are or want to be. Facebook, for example, made headlines after the 2016 presidential elections with Mark Zuckerberg's vow to keep fake news off user feeds.

4. You probably won't have to languish as long before moving forward.

Feedback on an online social media platform can be almost instantaneous. The fast responses from those in your network can give you the information you need to make important decisions, and you can use social media data as part of your general data analytics process. They also can mean you're able to get supplies or other resources you need faster. Both benefits translate to efficient operational processes and the feeling of being in control. The more you feel in control, the less stressed out you're likely to be.

Traditional, offline networking is not something to brush under the rug. But building your online social presence can do real good, too, not just for your business accounts, but for your mental wellbeing. If you're currently not involved on a social media platform, invest in yourself and put together a profile as soon as you can.

Published on: Nov 22, 2016
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.