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Face(Book) It – There’s a Link(edIn) in this Social Networking Hype(rlink)

by Tricia Bowler-Archambault

Over the past few months my colleagues have been teasing me about turning into a “techie”.  Our employment centre has developed curriculum for clients to utilize LinkedIn in their job research, we include hyperlinks to previous employers’ websites in resumes, we started a FaceBook Page as an introduction to blogging and are building our About Us page with staff LinkedIn profiles.  We useGoogle Calendar to manage our staff schedules and we use shared workspaces to control department documents.

None of us who work in our centre consider ourselves highly skilled in the use of Web 2.0, yet we are continuing to build a variety of skills and knowledge, and pass these along for the benefit of our clients’ career development.

Initiating new technologies is a challenge, so here are a few ideas from what I have learned….

Research
Look for applications that give useful, relevant and quick returns on effort. Our clients are now using LinkedIn as a way to identify specific individuals in targeted companies for Job Search Networking.

Be in the game
Jump in yourself. Be willing to look ignorant. Share your concerns and your successes. It is all motivational. Someone showed me how to do a hyperlink in an email — I forgot — I asked again and kept going.

Keep it simple
When you learn something, share it in easy steps.  For example, use Print Screen feature to capture web pages as they will be viewed, paste into a Word document and then create word instructions beside the images on how to complete a task. MS Word document providing colour PrintScreen image instructions available upon request — email me at tbowler@mccbc.com.

Beta test  
Recruit a small group of willing staff to try out new, basic applications.  During Beta testing, continue to maintain your current systems in parallel.  MS Word document providing colour PrintScreen image instructions available upon request — email me at tbowler@mccbc.com.

Deal with every concern  
Create opportunity for people to voice what they don’t like about the new applications. Concerns about privacy are rampant. Address each issue, educate staff on settings and controls, and respect individual preferences.

Let people experiment and learn on staff time
Most people have experimented with FaceBook, TwitterYammerYouTube, and blogging, at home. If permissions are granted for people to experiment “legally” during the work day, learning will accelerate. Invite staff to initiate and contribute in ways that are interesting and meaningful to them.

Timing is everything
Integrate new applications over time to test the capability of staff’s time to maintain approved portals and maintain a workable learning curve. Ensure written instructions are available for new staff to come up to speed quickly.

Share knowledge
Identify and enroll colleagues to share their skills with other staff members.  Share what you know beyond your immediate team. Utilize YouTube, Wikipedia, e-newsletters and LinkedIn Groups.  This is a form of social networking that occurs in virtual Communities of Practice.

Allow time for identities to shift
Some people don’t perceive themselves as “digitally oriented”.  Allow people time to try on new ways of communicating and connecting.  Let them gain their own experiences of personal relatedness through social networking for career development.  No one imagined just a short time ago, that a significant number of singles would be looking to on-line dating portals as a viable method for locating a potential partner — so why not the potential of a new employer.


Tricia Bowler-Archambault, MA, enjoys creating innovative projects, client-focused programming and inspiring creative teams in MCC Employment and Community Development.  She lives with her family in White Rock, BC.

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