OK, so maybe I am going to play a semantics game today, but…I promise it does have a point, especially if you are trying to figure out how to make the buzzword of the hour “engagement” work in your technical job search.
Not too long ago I published a post called “Tweet Your Way to the Top or Something Like That.” In that post, I outlined some of the key factors involved in making a social media site like Twitter turn into more than just conversation, even very good conversation.
Essentially, you can have all the “engagement” you want in today’s job search, whether it is online or face-to-face in industry networking groups, but when you understand “value-add,” then you will find success in any form of networking.
OK, so you might be thinking, “what’s the difference?”
Here’s where things most often get lost.
“Engagement” is an interesting word that is basically being used loosely in marketing/networking circles. Engagement is either simply the arrangement of a meeting in a particular time and place or the act of being emotionally committed to something, such as a marriage betrothal (you can also use it to talk about “being in gear” or in reference to a military event). I’m pretty sure when we are networking, we want more than just to show up at the same time and place and we aren’t looking for anything quite so dramatic as a marriage proposal!
No, when most people use the word “engagement” in a social media sense, what they are really talking about is being “engaging,” which means to draw favorable attention or interest. In other words, you become so interesting to the other person that he or she is drawn to speaking with you. You are so engaging that they are fully engaged in the conversation.
Generally speaking, we all like to be around people who are “engaging.”
But, contrary to popular belief, being engaging alone is not really what makes a person good at networking. Sure, it helps “draw” people in. Extroverts generally get a leg up in that regard, but…and this is a big BUT, being “engaging” is not the same thing as persuading someone to take action on your part.
And let’s face it, when you are networking, ultimately that is what you are hoping happens: action. You are looking for someone(s) to take action.
So here’s where introverts generally have the advantage. Introverts are less comfortable with the “wooing” side of networking; they want their interactions to be right to the point and to count. So when networking, they look for ways to refer and recommend resources to their connections. In other words, they add value because they know that is what they are looking for in return, connections who offer them a value-added experience. If you notice, there is action involved.
(Now, if you can find a way to be both engaging and value-adding, well, now you’re likely more than just an effective networker but also a top sales performer because you’ve understood a basic sales principle: You’ve given people a “reason” to speak with you and an “excuse” to buy into what you have to say.)
So when you are dreading your next networking event or toiling over how to make social media work in your technical job search, think more about how you can provide value to your connections. Think recommendation and referral. Be that resource on such and such subject that people go to because they find you credible. My guess is that by shifting the focus onto value, you will become more “engaging” in a natural sense.