Ever feel like co-workers or bosses think you’re avoiding work or ‘playing online’? Maybe you’ve even felt a little guilty for your time on Twitter/Facebook or Google Reader? I say: stop it. Feeling that way, that is.

My thought on this is that you are only as prepared as you are informed. Sure you  have tasks to do, but being aware of up to the minute happenings makes you more valuable. Being connected to other professional minds as well as new ideas/hypotheses helps you do your job better than if you waited till you had free time (whats that?) to read your feeds, catch up on Twitter, or blog your thoughts on a topic you’re working on and receive feedback: your connectivity is your biggest asset.

Just like the nature of the web and lifestreaming, all things flow together in our daily digital lives. You research a topic, you find a gem, you Tweet it, you share it on Facebook or bookmark it on Delicious, email it to staff and IM discuss it. All things flow together. Even if you did just RT that clip from Glee last night.

If you take yourself out of the stream of information, you risk being out of the loop, reading old news, and missing out on your own professional development that makes you such a valued asset to your company – and career –  in the first place.

To do so, you might as well interoffice mail your resignation. :)

2 Comments

  1. I can understand using social networking, as you describe above, if you’re in a profession that can benefit from the real-time knowledge and connections. If it is such a value to your company/profession, then you should take the time to explain, logically, to your boss and co-workers the value in the way you use it. I’m all for social networking, if there truly is a benefit to the company. As for professional development, unless the company is in the habit of paying for training and other forms of employee development, then fine. If not, then professional development should be done on one’s own time and not company time. One’s development is mostly an asset to oneself and a personal responsibility.

    However, in my experience, that’s not what happens. Many people get “addicted” to their Facebook status and Twitter updates and lose touch with the real world. I know someone recently who almost lost their kids because he and his wife would spend all their time on the internet and not clean house or properly take care of their kids.

    The employees at my company who have been reprimanded for using the internet improperly are usually posting junk to their “pages” that is neither beneficial to the company nor professional in nature. They post pictures of their party weekend in San Diego, on the company’s dime. They use IM to gossip with their friends, who are also supposed to be working, which means two companies are losing money and productivity because of it. These same time-wasting employees then complain about their paychecks and/or the lack of commissions they receive. If they had spent more time making their sales calls, instead of gossiping with friends or blogging about how drunk they got last weekend, then maybe their commission checks wouldn’t look so pathetic.

    I’ve tried Facebook and see no value in it. It’s a big time waster and the only networking I get from it is requests to take the latest quiz or help my friends in whatever online game they’re playing. I’ve got better things to do, like write a thoughtful email to a friend, play Stratego with my kids, or exercise my pet. I’m 35 and I love technology, but sometimes the best way to use technology is to simply turn it off.

  2. Jess – This is an issue I’ve struggled with, both as a middle manager and as an advocate and user of social media. As a middle manager, I’m in the position of having to sell higher-ups (all of whom are Boomers or older) on the value of social media for communicating with various audiences, and also trying to bring a multi-generational staff into cohesion on where and how social media fits into our work. One Gen Xer on staff is a brilliant blogger, and he contributes more to our research blog than the rest of us, combined. He finally got on board with Facebook, but he won’t touch Twitter. Another Boomer (just a few years older than I) LOVES Facebook but for non-work reasons only, and won’t embrace management of the university’s Facebook page. (Yeah, I know I’m stereotyping generations, and I read your post about that. Shame on me. But you get the point. ;) )

    The fact of the matter is that social media is here, and we’d better learn to deal with it and to use it effectively to accomplish our goals.

    As for the value of social media: There’s always going to be clutter, just as in any media. We need to filter out the quiz requests, spam tweets and all the other crap, just as we do with traditional media (via channel-surfing, turning the page, etc.).

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