What Direction Are You Taking with Social Media?

Career DirectionI’m now reading (for the second time) the powerful book The Principle of the Path by Andy Stanley. The premise of the book is clear: Direction-not intention-determines our destination. This principle isn’t something you follow like a rule. It follows you and it has the power to break you.

If you choose a path of financial irresponsibility, you will eventually arrive at an undesirable and inevitable destination. That’s not speculation. That’s fact. The author also notes that the same principle of the path applies to each of us relationally, academically, spiritually, physically, and professionally.

Let me share a story that serves to remind me of this important principle.

Back when I was in college at James Madison University, a friend in my dorm had made arrangements for his brother to visit him at school. The drive from their parents’ home in Northern Virginia to the Shenandoah Valley is pretty simple. Interstate 64 West to Interstate 81. Two hours away. Visible from the Interstate:

So his brother headed out to JMU by himself. After 3.5 hours, his brother had still not arrived. Finally, the phone rang from a pay phone (these were the pre cell phone days). “Where are you?”, my friend calmly asked. “I’m in Harrisburg. Where on earth is the JMU campus?”

My friend burst out in laughter.

You see… JMU is in Harrisonburg, VA. His brother had arrived in Harrisburg, PA.

His brother had the absolute right intention when he left home that day. He just went the wrong direction on Interstate 81. And that decision determined his destination.

So now I find myself asking myself this question at this stage of my career.. Where am I going with social media? And I encourage you to ask it of yourself.

Where do we think we are going to end up relationally and professionally? Will it help our career whether we are a job seeker or an entrepreneur?

I regularly receive LinkedIn invitations. We all do. Some are clearly from LinkedIn open networkers (or LIONs). They don’t know me. I often have no idea where they found my name because they fail to even include a personal note in the invitation.

A year or two from now, what is their expectation? That because we “connected” anonymously at some time, I’m ready to go to bat for them when they need that perfect referral to a potential client or hiring manager?

Don’t let that become your destination because you may find yourself alone. Other people take a different direction.

Over the past year, I have met some very gracious and smart people on Twitter, such as Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter, Melissa Cooley, Cindy Kraft, Hannah Morgan, Kris Plantrich, and Julie Walraven. We’re now connecting and talking on Facebook or LinkedIn as well.

And we are doing so not to increase our connection totals. We’re connecting because we are confident we can be of more service to each other in the years ahead. And the destination may simply be the right referral at the right time. Or at next year’s Career Thought Leaders Conference.

That is a direction I wish for all of you.

What are your thoughts on using social media? Where do you feel it is taking your career?


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).

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