It’s clear how dependent we’ve become on social media, or SoMe (a mnemonic I’ve recently come to learn). We rely on SoMe for everything from job searches to career development and branding, to connecting with like-minded people, to finding friends and even to finding love. Some take SoMe to a level that replaces in-person, face-to-face human interaction or, to go even further, we often use it to avoid feeling rejected by peers, potential mates and potential employers. There is something about cyberspace as a buffer between us and the other person that makes us feel safe, but it’s also working toward our detriment.
In the land of the unemployed, SoMe serves as a way to be satisfied that we’re doing SOMETHING to help ourselves and when a response to our applications never materialize into employment we can say “at least I tried.” While it’s commendable that you are doing something rather than sitting around doing nothing at all, your online dependency is hurting you if you’re not doing anything in addition. The question is, how do we create a hybrid approach that combines the best of the SoMe world with the old school approach that has worked for generations?
First, let me reintroduce you to the telephone. Somehow we have decided that texting, email and SoMe direct messaging is the only way to communicate. While it allows us to stay connected more regularly in a less intrusive way (as we can tap someone while not interrupting if they’re busy at that moment), online methods gives the recipient a license to get back to you when they get back to you. Picking up the phone has many benefits starting with its display of your confidence and tenacity.
Next, if you are spending day-after-day sitting in front of your computer then it’s time to step away from the terminal and get outside in the 3D world. Use SoMe to connect with people to set up in-person meetings. Even if that person doesn’t have a job to offer you, they could be a great resource or may know someone looking to hire someone just like you. This is where networking and being an Occupreneur™ is not only valuable, but essentially vital to your success.
Finally, don’t be afraid to go to new places alone. Most people feel funny about sitting in a coffee shop or bar, or going to a social event such as a fundraiser without a wingman. What’s amazing is that once you get used to and more comfortable with being in places by yourself, you suddenly don’t feel alone because the chances of meeting new people becomes so much greater than if you were sitting somewhere with a friend. When you’re with a friend it can make you seem less approachable. And you never know who you will meet or who that person may know. That said, always make sure you feel safe when going it alone.
And one final word; don’t get discouraged. It’s so easy to when we feel like nothing is happening or moving in the direction we want or need it to. That doesn’t mean things aren’t happening. Keep pushing through by talking to and meeting new people, while following up with those who you’ve already been in contact with. One of the best pieces of advice my father gave me was that if you throw enough stuff against the wall eventually something will stick. But please be deliberate with what you ‘throw’ because throwing everything all over the place will work against you!