Being social vs. finding on social

I am riding the train from Atlantic City to the office in Philadelphia. I am observing a bunch of teens using their phones to text, take photos, and so on. A typical scene for a train on a summer day.

Of course I turn my thoughts to work, and wonder how these kids will somehow interact with their employers in a social medium. One of my thoughts focuses on how people share work experiences with friends, and how often that happens. In my little social world, it doesn’t happen much actually, especially with close friends. Occasionally they toss up seething on Facebook associated with work, and it’s usually something they are proud of, but not that often. Certainly not a large share of their posts. In fact, of thousands of people that I know via LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook, I really don’t know much about what they do, how they work, or if they like their work….at least not specifically.

I know one friend from high school teaches for University of Phoenix, and I know she enjoys teaching, but I have no idea if she likes the company. Another works CNN, and he follows amazing stories on site, but I don’t know what he does specifically, or what his boss is like. Conversely, a third friend is always posting about her work, the people she finds for leadership development programs at BASF, and how much fun she is having.

All three use FB frequently, and post personal and professional stuff. But only one really talks about work in a way that helps me peer into the organization. Which brings me back to the kids on the train and my point.

Maybe it’s more important for recruiters and leaders to find people who are naturally social about work. You really can’t buy that type of publicity, and it’s so valuable. So what if somebody “likes” a page or “retweets” something. Personally, I am more likely to pay attention to something more real, like a check in plus a comment. It’s amazing how people check in at a Starbucks during the 30 minutes they are getting a latte, but they don’t check in for work.

Imagine if you had a sales team that was social about their work experience daily versus not at all. Do you think it would effect sales? Tough to tell, but I think probably. No about a manager who always talks about his/her team vs. one who never does, and then that manager turns to social media for candidates. I bet the social leader who talks about work has an easier time.

Maybe we need to start asking a different set of questions during interviews. Rather than asking “do you use social media” we need to ask “how do you inform our friends about your work using social media?”

May make for a very different work force with different productivity.

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