by Sheree Van Vreede (@rezlady)
I feel like lately I am surrounded by this word “engagement” and not far behind is the word “community.” Although I probably shouldn’t admit this, I am getting a bit tired of both of them. I sat in on a Twitter chat last week that threw the terms around so much during our one-hour discussion that I was swirling in a sea of peace, love and, well, engagement. The whole thing ended with one other fellow chat member quoting me Ghandi and to “be the change I wanted to see in the world.”
The problem was, I wasn’t as convinced about the reality of engagement as my chat friends were about the theory of it. In other words, in theory, I thought it was a lovely idea; in reality, I rarely see it working. I can be all that I can be, but reality is . . . reality. Or maybe it’s just my mid-life cynicism setting in (my Twitter chat friends chalked it up to my lonely childhood; more social media was their cure!).
Either way, I can’t help but get a little skeptical when words become buzzwords (and when people sum up useless debates with Ghandi quotes; no offense to Ghandi).
Community Matters, Dang It!
Because Google+, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and everyone else are pushing us all to be “influencers” these days (do you know your Klout score, and your Kred score, by the way?), it’s hard not to admit that community matters. I read the other day that pretty soon we won’t even have a Google search engine; we’ll just have our Google+ profiles and “circles” who will influence all our searches based on their likes and postings. (So choose your friends wisely; just make sure you also happen to choose 3,000 of them so that you have lots of “influence” and “engagement”!)
Without a doubt, you hear the stories of those who have built up so much influence across social media, that they are superstars in the virtual realm. But honestly, many of them are just really good sales people. The others are just really good networkers. The sales people figure out a way to turn all that community love into cash. The networkers, well, they keep networking.
But in most cases, people are just putting themselves out there, and they’re kind of floundering, wondering what it is they are supposed to do now that they have joined this community or that one. The rules of engagement are completely lost on them because they aren’t all that interested in being engaged in the first place. It’s kind of like attending a mixer. Probably 80% of the people would rather be anywhere else doing anything else.
Be the Change
The one little item that my Twitter friends kept missing, but in my mind was the key to the whole puzzle, is that human nature is, well, human nature…virtual or in living color. Most people want something out of social media; they aren’t necessarily looking to contribute to it. With that type of mindset, it is hard to be “engaged” or “”influencers” of each other in this harmonious “community.” So you and I can lead the way, “be the change” all day long, but that doesn’t mean our circles will follow.
On the job search side, I believe, this is an important concept to understand because if you put too much hope in social media, you’ll just end up frustrated. You have to find the right balance between participating in communities and traditional job search methodologies. I’m not convinced that we are going to “change the world” because we now have social media; I am convinced, however, that we can use social media to our advantage by understanding how the world we live in works and then, you guessed it, engaging it.
What say you? We’d love to hear from you.
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