Twenty and Tweeting
Guys, this is scary. I have a twitter. A Twitter? I don’t know. Also, I joined LinkedIn. Linkedin? I don’t know. Really, I don’t know anything about these newfangled (though not so new) types of social media, but I’m all in.
When I think of networking, I still think of working the room, old-school-style. Cocktail dresses, suits and ties, glasses of wine, cheese bars. In my imagination, networking happens in a large room, where lots of important people are walking around with their business cards, and I’m walking around with copies of my resume; my innate wit and charm is so impressive and their fascinating description of their businesses is so interesting that we make a mutually beneficial exchange of paperwork which ultimately ends in a job for me.
I realize, naturally, that this isn’t the only type of networking that exists anymore. I get it – the whole world is online, and I can’t pretend my online identity isn’t important. And what I realized this week (thanks to Glenn Engler’s TEX talk) is that I need to stop pretending my online identity doesn’t exist. Instead of setting my facebook profile settings to the most private ones that exist and refusing to foster my online persona, I need to accept that the internet is a part of my job search. I need to create a virtual identity that is both reflective of my real identity and 100% professional.
So I’m taking my first week of being twenty as a way to make a few steps into the real world. I’m not giving up on my idealized view of networking; just last night, my willingness to ask questions of and speak to people who matter more than me got me two business cards. A simple follow up email became a lunch date with a Harvard professor (check back in a week!). And this very post may lead to a paid internship (Ginger, if you’re reading this, I’m increasingly interested by the minute!).
When I started this blog a few weeks ago, I didn’t think of it as a way to tell the professional world about who I am. In fact, I’ve tried really hard to keep as many defining variables about myself out of my posts. Maybe I don’t want the anonymous world of the internet to know my name, birthdate, address, etc. Maybe that’s reflective of the way my parents raised me to value my own privacy, maybe its just a result of being a 20-year-old female who doesn’t want to get attacked in the real world (or the virtual one, for that matter).
But now, Glenn Engler’s talk showed me something I think people have been trying to tell me for years: the real world isn’t enough anymore. (Note to my high school English teachers: I remember the emphasis on “show, don’t tell.” Now I get why.) The pictures on facebook, the things I blog about, the people I follow on twitter: these are an invaluable way to let potential employers get a three-dimensional picture of me. The same thing is accomplished when I get the opportunity to talk with someone over wine and cheese in my imaginary networking situation, but there are no geographical limitations to who can see this blog, or who can view my facebook posts. Isn’t that, by definition, why we like social media? It is certainly the main reason I started this blog.
Hopefully joining LinkedIn will give me the opportunity to stay connected with teachers and other professionals I don’t necessarily want to friend on facebook. And hopefully tweeting will let me have a bit of fun, and maybe even get an internship… And if you want to follow me, or just listen to me chirp, search for my name, or @twicethejoy.