Wednesday, April 7, 2010

On the Job 24/7 with Social Networking

Interview question:  "Let’s say an employer asks to 'friend' you on Facebook. How do you handle that?" The response should tell an employer much about the applicant, right. (Imagine the education version:  "Let's say a student asks to 'friend' you on Facebook. How do you handle that?)

In either case the National Association of Colleges and Employers notes in a recent post that managers and administrators are looking for new-hires with social networking expertise.  I have a hunch they are not looking just at texts-per-minute speeds.  Some jobs, a NACE article points out, may go to those job-seekers with higher contact counts. Knowing how to use social media effectively and safely is becoming a sought after skill.  You need to know how increase sales and decrease scandals.

As social media becomes a normal part of our dealings in all spheres of our lives, the circles we in which we swim become mixed: professional and personal. The many versions of our selves--professional and personal, civic-minded and family-centered--tend to intersect on social networks. Don't we share a side of ourselves with our family that we reserve from our co-workers? How do live authentically on a social network? We needn't fear Big Brother to censor ourselves as much as the fella in the next cubicle as we keep our personal brand up to snuff.

Maybe this is nothing new in the long view. Puritans in colonial towns knew each other's business. Then again, they hanged each other as witches, too.

As teachers, long held to higher standards of civil behavior, we understand personal branding perhaps better than folks whose personal life is more, well, personal.

I have friends, past romances, family, business associates, fellow teachers, former students, and parents of current students among my Facebook friends and LinkedIn contacts. I'm figuring how to be diplomatic among disparate groups. So if this teaching thing, doesn't work out, I might at least be up on my social networking skills.

I've got a way to go, though, apparently.  The illustration shows my Friend Wheel, a representation of how and my friends interact on Facebook (on the left), in contrast to another user whose wheel I found proudly posted as on Flickr.

With regard to social networking in the classroom, currently it's difficult to teach our students these skills, especially if schools don't allow mobile phones in class and the school filters knock out social networking sites.  Texting in the restrooms, not smoking, is le crime du jour. Still we ought to discuss these issues.  How to be our best selves and put our best foot forward has always in our purview.  Social networking makes it a skill to be practiced 24/7.

Image credit:  Wheel on the right posted to Flickr by kk+ on 9 July 2007.

No comments: