You connect online multiple times a day from emails, social media, and instant messages (IM) to virtual business meetings and conference calls. Today you can work on projects with people from around the globe-some you may never meet in person, but with whom you develop an online connection. How might the relationship with someone you met in person and online differ?
How do you find out about a person; how do you vet them from afar? Often you learn about someone from the information they post about themselves online in profiles on sites such as LinkedIn. Other times information is posted about the person by a third party or news service. Have you ever “googled” someone (searched their name on Google) when you first met them? If not, you might be surprised by the variety of information you can find once you zero in on the specific person you are looking for. Social and professional network profiles illustrate professional organizations, accomplishments, and job titles. Viewing profiles of people in your field may give you insights into job possibilities in your future.
Being a human in a technological world provides virtual options for work that did not exist before. Educational systems are grappling to prepare students for jobs that simply didn’t exist 20 years ago. Businesses and companies create virtual teams consist of individuals who live all over the United States and even the world. Knowledge work (online teaching, consulting at a distance, and many other professions) is often done without stepping foot in an office building. If you could design the perfect job for you, what would it look like?
Many adults are still trying to determine what they want to be “when they grow up.” You are taking the first step in creating a path to your new or improved career. Technology has created many new career options, but it has also created networks of support for professionals in their field or discipline. How will you leverage virtual connections to gain traction in your career? Have you considered virtual career development? What technology mastery would enhance your ability to compete in your field?
To prepare for the Discussion:
How might professional social networking assist you in meeting your own goals and building mentor relationships? Use social media to find a working professional in the same field as you are hoping to enter or currently advancing within. What things can you learn from their profile? Are there things you would like to strive toward? Do you have any new thoughts about the field or your own goals after looking through this virtual profile?
Based on the “How to find a career mentor more easily” resource, discuss a tip you could immediately implement to begin building mentor relationships.