Monday, May 3, 2010

Texts and Tweets and Profiles--Oh My!

From cover stories in Fortune to millions of everyday interactions and conversations, social media and their role in the job search and career transition process seems to be on everyone’s mind these days. Besides the obvious enabling aspects of these tools and their particular strengths and quirks, one persistent question comes up over and over: Do these build stronger relationships or are they more transactional, making us feel that we are building something meaningful that may ultimately be something far less than that.

There is no question that these new tools, when used well and as part of a disciplined approach to transition, are powerful and help the process to move along more smoothly and quickly. They do, however, have the quality of lulling us into thinking that these connections are as real and meaningful as those we have created through face to face meetings and interactions. The reality is that they do not.

We believe that meaningful connections take time to create, requiring a mindful and nurturing approach to building a longer-lasting relationship. Social media allow us to be and feel connected, but they are not designed for, nor do they encourage the building of real relationship. Instead, their use (and overuse) can create a dependency, a laziness, if you will, that actually can inhibit the building of strong relationships. Furthermore, in our experience, it is these deeper relationships that are key to finding and keeping meaningful work.

As many who are searching for meaningful work realize, social media have a powerful and growing place in how we drive the process. We encourage the adept and savvy use of these tools to support and even accelerate a well thought out job search or career change. However, if your plans do not also include a vigorous commitment to “traditional” networking, including regular face-to-face and voice-to-voice connections with old friends and colleagues and new contacts, all the tweets, texts, and well-written profiles will probably not get you where you want to go.

Best wishes.

Mark Guterman