Schmooze or Loose
June 21st, 2012 by admin
Originally Published on Execunet:Wednesday, June 20, 2012
|Posted By: David Topus|
Sherry Turkle, communications professor at MIT, wrote in a recent Sunday New York Times a fabulous piece about the state of interpersonal communication in our society. Her perspective was especially relevant for job seekers. It pointed out how over-connected our culture has become through technology and under-connected in person. She says that the best, highest-quality relationships require the richness and chemistry that only face-to-face interaction permits and that the skills of interpersonal communication are being all but lost as we become more isolated from one another.
It reminded me of what Warren Buffet once asked in encouraging business executives to use his private jet company. “Ever give a firm handshake over a speaker phone?” He could have asked the same question about the Internet. You don’t have to be a social scientist to recognize this change in communication. We need only look around; for that matter, we need only look in the mirror, because we’re all doing it!To be sure, the Internet is a great tool for job search. We can make new connections. We can research companies. We can participate in online discussions. We can stay current with trends. But as Warren Buffet suggests, it has its limitations: We can’t look someone in the eyes, pick up subtleties of body language, share the chemistry of an in-person exchange or give a firm handshake to begin or end our conversation.
As I point out in my book, Talk to Strangers: How Everyday, Random Encounters Can Expand Your Business, Career, Income and Life, even as we have our faces buried in our computers and smartphones, the real action is face-to-face. Instead of finding your next job lead on a computer screen, you’re likely to find it standing in front of you at the supermarket checkout line, across from you at the Starbucks, behind you in the elevator or next to you on the airplane. And guess what … most of the people you’ll meet there are available for face-to-face human interaction — maybe even craving it. All you have to do is penetrate the thin veil of “stranger-ness” and strike up a conversation.For job seekers the advantages of having “random encounters” and leveraging those into productive, profitable relationships are significant.
So while Professor Turkle has it right — there is a de-emphasis on face-to-face communication — this cultural shift also creates opportunity for those of us who know how to break through the veneer of “anonymity” with the people we encounter throughout the day. Online connecting will get us a friend on Facebook, a contact on Linked In, a follower on Twitter. But if we want a relationship of consequence; one that actually leads to a better job, a new client, a strategic partner, an angel investor — it will probably happen in person, and we are likely to find it right in our midst all day long. Then it comes down to a smile, a look straight in the eyes and a firm handshake — oh so important and oh so forgotten — in a world that is going digital.