Linked In! The contemporary temple of professional image making. People from all age groups around the globe, spend hours inputing information and credentials they did not even remember they had. While the main goal is to get employed, the process of creating a “ranger-profile” is all about becoming the Irresistible You!
Yes, that’s right, most people tailor their skills and experiences to portray all the aspects of a particular industry role-model. No one admits they have bar-tended, waited tables or worked as a hotel maid. As a marketer, I perfectly understand why that is the norm. However, I wonder whether there is any employer who believes the dream candidate is flawless?
In this hypocritical, online perfection bliss of future CEO-like profiles, I met the “Hard Working Gal.”
As an avid Linked In user my self, I constantly browse this evolving platform for personal and professional purposes. The other day while seeking for professionals in media relations, I typed in a common English name, some key words…and boom! The profile of a woman who shall be named Sarah Smith for the purpose of this post, popped up on my screen. Her working tittle: “Hard Working Gal” blew me away.
Appalling I thought to myself! How dare she? No picture, no areas of expertise, no fancy words and meta tags? Immediately I assumed she was unemployed – who uses slang anyway (?) – so I clicked to view her full profile. (And NO, I don’t think this was stalking!). Surprisingly Sarah was doing just fine. She had a long term job, quite a few friends and the audacity to bluntly be herself online…Fascinating!
Immediately the Hard Working Gal had become my Guru.
Was it that she understood nothing about social media or was it maybe that she understood more than me? Two questions, deep thoughts, infinite answers. Who says that people should present themselves in a certain manner? Social norms heavily dictated our life decisions, and we are now transitioning to the level where social-media-norms define who we are on and offline. Shockingly I am one of those who have been influenced by the social media savoir vivre. I am one of those who judged the Hard Working Gal! Who am I to make a decision about Sarah Smith and determine whether she is competent or not?
Countless hours of self reflection brought me back to my senses, and here are my two cents of wisdom: Instead of focusing to create an artificial persona that will impress everyone and their mother in virtual reality, we should be investing energy in present. What matters is human interaction, because real relationships can get you jobs, can help you out when in trouble, can celebrate your success or comment on your life choices.
Day by day I receive connection request from people we share professional interests, and while I welcome those, I honestly believe in the importance of contextualizing professional networking beyond an online connection. Networking in multidimensional, and must be approach as such. Most likely you will call your friend and seek for advice, rather than shooting random email requests to strangers. Please don’t get my argument wrong. I am not saying you should not work to expand your network through social media. On the contrary. However, instead of trying to increase your professional connections and land a job by promoting a reinforced-you, you should focus on the importance of using technology as a tool to reinforce your network. After all, achieving your aspirations is about your personal story.
This video on the Innovation of Loneliness came in timely to complement my train of thought. The modern narcissists drown their personal qualities in the vanity of image making. Magic however happens real-time, so I hope you are prepared to impress, succeed or equally fail and start over with the support of your network – which by the way – is not as extended as your virtual “buddies” make you think.
The “Hard Working Gal” said it all in three words, and Sarah Smith is the embodiment of what you should be looking up to: yourself!