My wife the recovering organizational psychologist tells me I’m an extrovert, which I find hard to believe. I do like to talk, but when it comes to introducing myself to someone or asking for favors, I have an innate fear of annoying people. I know it’s not logical, but there you are.
So you’d think I’d be all over social networking to keep my professional network going. But I’m not. Ironically, I find that whatever hesitations I have about meeting new people, I have no problem offering to take them out for coffee, lunch or a drink. That little quid pro quo greases the skids for me. Basically, I don’t think you can effectively develop a network by friending 732 people, most of whom you probably haven’t seen since college.
And I am here to tell you that you don’t have to do s*** on social media — not a single thing — and your career will probably be fine.
See, social media is about being social. You post pictures of your family. You keep up to date with your cousin in Switzerland. If you’re in a mid-life crisis, you look up your old high school sweetheart. But in terms of professional networking, it’s really about making sure you don’t do anything embarrassing or, well, dumb. You don’t want your prospective employer to see you dressed as a banana for Halloween, and you don’t want your boss to see pictures of you partying on the day you supposedly buried your beloved grandmother.
Now, social media has its place: You can look for people in your specialty and reach out with a note explaining why you want to connect, or you can look up the profile of the manager you’re about to interview with. But creating close relationships isn’t going to happen through a friend request – it’s going to happen when you actually meet someone, and talk to them, and look for ways to help them in their job hunt or work. (Pay it forward, as they say.)
As Reuttimann says:
The world applauds intellectually curious people who are open to new ideas and experiences. The economy rewards individuals who are innovative, willing to take on calculated risks, and know a good idea when they see it. The world wants you to learn about Oovoo and Skype, the universe doesn’t reward anyone who follows Ashton Kutcher on Twitter.
Or Charlie Sheen, for that matter. No, I’m not linking to his Twitter feed.
Am I wrong? Just tell me. Post a comment below.