Is Gen X Afraid of Facebook for Networking?

As a child of the 70’s, I am a card carrying member of the (small but proud) Generation X. This generation is generally defined by people born between 1961 – 1979.

The other week, I had the opportunity to listen to a valuable presentation on Generation X by Harvard Business Review contributer Tammy Erickson. The webinar was titled “The Leaders We Need Now. Are We Ready for Gen X to Take Charge?” An interesting question indeed in consideration of the perceived “Boomer-Y Love Fest” (quoting Tammy).

To its credit, Gen X does have top representation in the White House (Barack Obama was born in 1961) and in the British Parliament (David Cameron was born in 1966).

Here are some Gen X characteristics from Tammy you may connect with:

1. Intensely Private
2. Mistrustful of Other People and of Organizations
3. Self Reliant
4. Tribal (strongly committed to a small circle of friends)
5. Impacted by skyrocketing divorce rates of parents (for perspective, the divorce rate was 22% in 1960 and by 1985, it was 52%)
6. Influenced by a changing workforce (more women in leadership roles and the start of the “free agent” nation)
The late John Hughes effectively defined the generation with his movies about resourceful and smart Gen X teenagers and their slow clueless parents. Consider.. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, The Breakfast Club, Some Kind of Wonderful, and Pretty in Pink. So as I continue to explore and understand the boundaries of social media networking for job seekers and small business entrepreneurs (myself included), I have to ask… is my generation afraid of the full potential of Facebook?

By observation, it appears the answer is yes.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying Gen X doesn’t use Facebook. It has become a perpetual high school reunion. I can’t believe I just hit my 20-year point. Class of 1990 rules! Who am I kidding? Better to quote of my favorite Gen X musicians Ben Folds (b. 1966) about how we really feel, “Whatever and Ever. Amen.”

I’m saying look at the numbers of friends.

I know Gen Y and Boomers who have maxed out. We’re talking 5,000 Facebook friends! They’re networking like crazy.

They friend everybody while Gen X does background checks. We’re the latchkey generation. My mother made me afraid of anyone. Don’t talk to anyone until your father and I come home from work!

So I think I finally figured out the Facebook secret for networking … Lists!

My thanks to Meghan, Stephanie, Sherida, Heather, Melissa, and Dani for teaching a Gen X’er some Facebook tricks 🙂

Facebook Lists allow you to control who sees what about you.. even at the photo album level.

Give it a try Gen X! And let me be the first to go out on the proverbial limb (gasp!) and extend a hearty Gen X invitation to network with you on Facebook. Brent’s Facebook Personal Profile Interview Angel Facebook Page (Just getting started here too and will be offering special promotions)

What other thoughts and recommendations do you have for networking on Facebook? Do you agree Facebook use varies by generation?


Author:

Brent Peterson, PMP, MS, MBA, is the founder of Interview Angel Inc., a company that offers a comprehensive guide and toolkit for job seekers to use in interviews. Interview Angel is in use at universities, corporations, non-profit agencies, and local governments.

Discover customer testimonials, blog posts, and media interviews at http://www.interviewangel.com/. Brent is also in LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com/in/brentpeterson) and on Twitter (@InterviewAngel).

Brent has also started an Interview Angel Facebook page for professionals that would like to share ideas and feedback about careers, entrepreneurship, and social media. There will be Facebook page promotions starting July 2010. Be sure to join in!

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