I see the terms “social media” and “social networking” used a lot. Really, a lot.
Susan Burns makes an important distinction between “social media” (a collection of tools) and “social networking” (the application of social media):
Social networking is pursued with the underlying intention of dialogue, engagement, and interest . . . If you are simply pushing jobs out to Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn, you are socializing job postings by using social media, but not necessarily engaging in social networking. If you’re engaging prospective talent in discussions and building active communities, you are pursuing a social networking strategy.
A very valuable point. But let’s say a company and its recruiters understand the nature of social networking and want to engage, build, and generally communicate on a community level. There is an “easy” side to that strategy, in the sense that there’s an eager audience of social media users out there who will welcome the opportunities they are presented with. They will naturally communicate and communitize.
Of course there is also a set of people who don’t have the connectivity and/or the technical capability to respond to social networking opportunities. They will have to be reached by some other means—and that’s the challenge of the “digital divide.” Although it’s less and less of an issue, it does still exist.
But there is also a third group, and these folks may be the most ignored. Social networking is by its very nature geared toward outgoing, expressive personalities. As well as ambitious, even aggressive personalities. And these “extroverts” often have a natural knack for connecting via social media tools.
Yet not all potentially valuable employees will fall into this “extrovert” profile. In fact, many highly successful executives are “introverts” according to a fascinating article in USA Today, which offers insights into the relationship of creativity, charisma, leadership, and personality type.
So. Where do introverts fit into today’s world of social recruiting?
A thoughtful post by “Cincy Recruiter” Jennifer McClure explains that the difference between extroverts and introverts is not what most people think. Extroverts are not necessarily non-stop socializers, and introverts are not necessarily shy and retiring. According to McClure, one big difference is that “introverts recharge by spending time alone,” while “extroverts recharge by being around people.”
That rings very true in my experience—and it also accounts in part for why the two types are not always clearly differentiated by Myer-Briggs and other personality tests. McClure goes on to offer some connecting/networking tips for self-defined introverts, aided by a delightful slideshow for the “shy connector,” created by Sacha Chua.
Although McClure herself is a recruiter and an introvert, the great majority of people in sales/recruiting/HR are extroverts themselves, and so may take that state of mind as the norm. Therefore! Anyone attempting to develop and implement a social networking strategy would do well to read McClure’s post and give some thought to creating an integrated approach that will appeal to quieter types as well as go-getters.
PS: Attitudes toward extroversion and introversion have a definite cultural aspect. In the U.S., for example, extroversion is generally considered “normal” and introversion is viewed by many as falling short of the personality ideal. That’s not true everywhere, and may actually be reversed in some cultures. But there may still be lurking bias—especially in interview situations—toward more outgoing candidates or prospects.
(Thanks to kevindooley for the illustration of bokeh–a photographer’s term for the diffused light that appears in an image when the light source is unfocused.)
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