“Most of my contact is online. Why do I need people skills?”

facebook friends 300x226 Most of my contact is online.  Why do I need people skills?Aren’t we all wired together through Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter? “How many people do I actually meet face to face?  Does it really matter.”

Facebook is a fine way to promote your brand, disseminate information, tell others about your love life, show the great dish you just cooked but are Facebook “friends” really friends?  Like are they going to tell you about some great opportunity that may interest you or are they just going to write “Awesome!” on your wall and forget about you. You may even find out about a job through LinkedIn but you still have to use every ounce of your interpersonal skills to get the job.

Social networks, blogs, forums, chats, IM have in some way brought the world together but together as strangers, anonymously, without identity.

Many think that people skills are less important because much of our communication is now online.  But online communication is usually just serves as the “opener” and is seldom if ever the “closer”.  In fact, mass communication like Facebook often promotes a false sense of “connectedness.”

Face-to-face contact is how things get done, how jobs are found, how connections are made.  And people skills are integral for all of us if we wanted to be liked and certainly if we want to make a positive impression.

Much of online career of social networking gives us the feeling of being connected but is really a poor substitute for real connect.  We may believe we are satisfying our human need for community but often I think it is simply anonymity disguised as community.

Take job hunting, for example: everyone uses some sort of online job board like Craigslist or Monster or Careerbuilder.  When I’ve been on a job search, I’ve spent hundreds of hours writing emails, sending out resumes only to get a few interviews here and there and but no offers except as a “check processor” for a Nigerian bank. I’ve been lulled into a feeling of “I’m doing everything I can to find a job” when the only thing I’ve really done is written cover-emails and attached my resume (and played a lot of online poker).  But it kept my wife satisfied… for awhile.

Job hunting, career building, work producing is usually only successful when we get away from the computer screen and start making calls and meeting people face-to-face.  But if you’re a died-in-the-wool geek, the prospect of meeting people, maintaining conversations, making a good impression, can be daunting.

The only way to get good at people skills or at least get “decent” is to learn to do it and practice it.

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