Facebook was really getting on my nerves, so one day I shut it down. Just like that. I disappeared from its clutches. Then, as with any breakup, I thought about what had gone wrong.
The final straw for me had been the roll out of the Timeline. Every dumb thing you've ever said on Facebook would be provided in a nice chronological chart for anyone who cared to poke around. It's not that I had anything to hide, but the whole concept bothered me, so I deactivated my account. But the next day, I wanted to see something that required me to log in to my Facebook account and suddenly I was back.
I felt somewhat sheepish, but realized that if I stayed off Facebook, I would ultimately miss my people. I had thought that if someone really wanted to talk to me, they could find me easily enough. But would they think to send me their vacation photos or a link that I'd find funny? Probably not.
I also recognized something even more significant. I had become lazy about connecting with people in a real way. I still felt connected to my good friend living on the West coast because I saw her updates regularly, but I hadn't spoken to her in a long time. We finally did connect on the phone and I realized how much I had missed by just reading her updates. I missed our friendship, our mutual support of each other and her laugh. Plus, the really good, juicy stuff doesn't go in status updates.
I realized then that it wasn't Facebook that was the problem. It was thinking that Facebook was enough of a connection with my friends and family. No matter how busy we get in our lives, we still need real, live, in-person connections. We also need to create them in our professional lives.
Most of my coaching clients are creative types and not big fans of professional "networking." I help them reach a paradigm shift where they're not just "networking" but connecting with people. Not just their friends, but a range of people they'd like to know, should know, used to know and would benefit from knowing.
There's more to connecting than going to networking events. There's also more to networking than connecting with someone on Linked In, Facebook or Twitter. The best strategy is to create a range of connecting activities like taking someone out for coffee or a drink so you can talk to them about the kind of job you're ideally looking for. Or buy someone lunch who you admire and talk to them about what they do and how they got there. If you've been around the business for awhile, grab a drink with that new technologist who just got hired and get to know him or her so you understand why he's suddenly in the creative brainstorming meetings.
I have a client who has been in the business for many years. As a result most of his contacts are either too senior to help him get work, or have left the industry altogether. So he's doing these things and slowly but surely he's getting there. He's creating a new network and soon, he's going to get more work because of it.
So my 24-hour break up with Facebook helped me see that connecting takes more effort than hitting a "like" button. It means making an extra effort to really connect with someone in the old fashioned way. So, go ahead and "like" someone's link, look through their photos, but don't forget to call them and have a conversation. That's a lot more fulfilling than a status update.
Anne Hubben believes the only thing worse than looking for a job you want is looking for a job you don't want. Anne is a career coach and recruiter for creative talent. She has been recruiting creatives in the design and advertising industry for 15 years and coaching them internationally for 4 years. She can be found at AnneHubben.com where she offers free resources and creative career tips. Say hello on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, or Google+
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