eNetworking: The Important Stuff
eNetworking? Seriously? Is that even a word?
Well, if it wasn’t, it is now! I just made it one. In the world according to Bud, eNetworking is networking online—a process our dearest lethal friend, the coronavirus, has forced us into. (Oh, okay, into which…the coronavirus has forced us.)
Don Miller, a really smart guy, and one I listen to almost every day, says there are four characters for you to choose from, given our current situation: victim, villain, hero, or guide. A victim will sit at home watching streaming reruns on Netflix all day, every day, because his career and life are in flux, he’s miserable, stir crazy, and just wants to curl up in the fetal position and suck his thumb. The villain will embrace Covid-19, and then go cough on everyone he can.
Then there’s the hero. That’s you! Why? Because you aren’t going to be stopped by a virus. You are going to find a solution to the social distancing problem that has seemingly cut your job search off at the knees. You’re a hero! You’re unstoppable!
The guide? That would be me. Teaching and coaching job search and career management skills is what I do.
So, what do you think about eNetworking? Is it the best thing ever? Greater even than Dr. Fauci? Absolutely not! No way. It is an alternative to being the victim, which you, as the hero, will never, ever be. It has drawbacks. I would guess (no data) that it’s about 25-40 percent worse than in person networking, which, according to budmath, still makes it roughly 100 percent better than sucking your thumb.
Here are the drawbacks. In a face to face meeting you get data—body language, personal items on the desk/walls, etc.—that can make forming a relationship easier, tell you how you’re doing, and so forth, that you won’t get much of using zoom, Skype, or other online services. Second, you need a camera. Most laptops, desktops, etc., have them, but they are of varying quality, and I don’t care how good your camera is, on occasion it’s going to make you look funny, especially if you approach the screen with your face too quickly. Third, you have to pay attention to things that aren’t that important when you’re in person.
What kind of things? Read on:
- The light: cameras do funny things with light. I meet with a lot of people online, and I find that usually they don’t give thought to where they’re sitting. If it’s in front of a window, I’m squinting into a demonically bright glow while their face gets totally shrouded in shadow. If they turn away from the window, now the light’s on the side, and that side of their face is bathed in blazing white light, while the other side looks like the far side of the moon. This will not help you in forming a relationship. It’s very off-putting.
- The screen: screens can be manually adjusted. All too often I wind up speaking to a nose, a pair of eyes, a forehead, and some hair, rather than someone’s face, or I’m looking at a neck and a tee shirt.
- The background: everything from plants off the rear deck to kitchen or bedroom closets. It’s difficult to be taken seriously sitting in front of the clothes washer. Especially if it’s running.
- Distractions: from kids to barking dogs, to lawn mower sounds. Makes it very difficult to hear and/or focus on the conversation.
- The camera: zoom and others show you two pictures in a two-person meeting—you and the other person. If you’re looking at the picture of the other person, you’re not looking into the camera. Typically, this makes it appear that you don’t want to look at the other person; like you’re ashamed. This, again, will not help you.
So, what to do?
First pick a room with a solid door that closes, that can be yours, and yours alone, even if only for an hour at a time. It’s best if there is a desk or table to use. I’ve found it best to block all natural light. You will want to have two light sources (lamps) diagonally in front of you, so you get equal light on both sides of your face. It should be warm light, and it’s best if you can adjust the brightness.
Pay close attention to what’s behind you. You may have to relocate some stuff. Professional web folks use a green screen behind them so they can make it look like their talking from their yacht, or their very expensive library. No need to go that far. But you don’t want to be showing underwear drying on a rack.
Find a way to place the camera at roughly eye level as you are sitting there. Set the camera so that it shows you roughly from below the shoulders up. I am terrible at looking into the camera, so I’ve taped a photo of my kids just above the camera to remind me where to look. That may help you. By the way, get a decent camera. You can get a decent one for $60. You can get a better one for around $90. Looking at a blur representing itself as a person is not fun.
When you need to be a face online, find someone else to mind the kids, dogs, Amazon delivery, etc.
These are solutions I’ve had to learn to fix all the mistakes I’ve made. You may make some as well. Go ahead. It still beats sucking your thumb.