I love the month of March.  Not just for the celebration of St. Patrick’s Day.  And not just for the promise of and beginning of spring.  I love the month of March for the social networking opportunities it provides!

March Madness is a time to connect for more people than just basketball fanatics.  These few weeks of college games bring all sorts of people together.  With the ever-increasing popularity of the Internet, we are now able to connect with other fans and colleagues, and reconnect with old friends and alumni across the nation.

Online brackets are immersing people in the practice of social networking and most don’t even realize it.  In the spirit of fun and friendly competition, you are able to trash talk your competitors and hold meaningful, online conversations with everyone involved in your pool.  You also can invite friends to join and create a mini profile for yourself, very similar to the social networking found on sites such as MySpace.

Milions of people completed online brackets this year, bringing a fun, competitive atmosphere to more than just the office.  I personally completed three brackets: One at the office, one through Facebook (to reconnect with my old alum), and one through Yahoo! Sports with friends and family.

However, the heightened enthusiasm and anticipatory spirit around the office doesn’t come without a price.  Today, the Washington Post reported that an estimated $1.2 billion annually is lost in productivity to activities such as viewing brackets and streaming the games on CIProud.com.  Some people have willingly admitted to spending 75 to 80 percent of their work day viewing brackets, following the NCAA tournament.

The month of March gives new meaning to the term “office team work”.