Wednesday, March 25, 2009

You Probably Won't Twitter Your Way To Anything....

I was recently sitting in a restaurant and overheard some women talking about Twitter.
"Do you know what Twitter is?" one said.
"Oh yeah, I saw it on the Weather Channel".
So Twitter is a big huge deal. So is Facebook. So is blogging. I've read countless articles about what we should or should not be "putting out there" and was also recently "friended" by my great uncle. It really got me to thinking about what all the social networking is doing for us?
Granted there are lots of avenues to create profiles and connect with friends and I'm not arguing that they are a waste of time because I spend a ton of time on these sites too. A disgusting, sick amount of time. However, I do think that job seekers and personal branding afficionados should not get caught up in mistaking "social networking" for "actual work".
This all kind of started when I was uber jealous that I couldn't go to SXSW. I could barely stand it or breathe I was so jealous. I told myself that if I didn't go I would never, ever, be where I needed to be if I didn't go to this function. I complained so often that a friend of mine had a mini intervention and outlined all of the things I had just completed in my career and I figured if I was freaking out about this stuff maybe other people were too.
So let me just come out and say that yes, your next employer or your current one wants you to understand Twitter. They will love it that you know how to navigate the social media sphere and they will certainly expect that you have had a little experience there. They will also want to see that you have done actual work.
It seems to me that with Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, blogging, etc. that we can be really really busy and at the same time not accomplish much. Twitter followers are great but networking will occur in other less sexy places as well. Example, you might find a mentor in a VP of Business Development at a dishwasher production company. He or she probably doesn't have a Twitter or Facebook but can be extremely well connected and have a lot of influence.
Your resume and your work experience (even if you are in the social media field) must be more well rounded than followers and friends. I definitely think all of the social networking spaces are essential to be a part of but it's just as importnant to be able to tell the difference between getting things done and just messing around with friends online.


Blogger Joe E. said...

It always seems to work better to meet the person first, then keep in contact with the sites afterwards.

This is how I get 75% of my business. Someone going through their Twitter/Facebook/etc. trying to remember which of their friends is a designer, and oh yeah, Joe just posted something about design and/or web coding...

And then a message follows. We discuss, and I get the job 9 out of 10 times. The one time I don't, I usually score points for having referred them to the person that does get the job.

But, I have yet to get a job from social media sites without having met the person in real life before hand. So I guess I am backing up your point.

March 25, 2009 at 6:26 AM  
Anonymous Nisha said...

I agree that social networking sites are fun but it's really important to keep it in check... I've seen way too many people who I think are bordering on obsession/addiction to Twitter and I have to say I think its kind of unhealthy when someone takes it that far. It's more important to get stuff done in the real world, not online.

March 25, 2009 at 9:53 AM  
Blogger Caitlin said...

Joe - I'm on the same page as you, I often meet people offline and then use online methods to stay in contact. However, this blog has led to some good friends that I've never met!

Nisha - I know those addicts too :) It's easy to feel like you're "behind" if you don't tweet 1000 times a day but my boss would not be so happy about that.

March 25, 2009 at 10:31 AM  
Anonymous Erin said...

This was a great post. I was introduced to social networking and blogging on a professional level as an intern on a Digital Public Affairs team at a large PR firm. Honestly, I developed a fear that if I didn't use Twitter and have a blog that I couldn't be respected in a digital PR or web-related career. I have gotten over that feeling for the most part, but as a web developer I do find healthy amounts of social networking incredibly helpful when I need help troubleshooting or just want to hear what other web developers are talking about. That doesn't mean that I expect to replace traditional methods of networking and job-seeking with Twitter. I wish that the media buzz around social networking would reflect that balance.

March 26, 2009 at 7:50 AM  

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