This week Dan Spira and I presented at a networking workshop sponsored by Keystone Partners. Dan blogged about the event — so let me point you to his words. I’ll add a few thoughts of my own to his message.
Many of the people we addressed described themselves as the kind of people who are usually late to adopting new technology. These are the people who were reluctant to use emails, who didn’t trust their ATM machine, who don’t do their banking or travel planning on-line. They’d rather print their emails to paper before they read them — or would have their admin do their emailing for them. These are the people whose VCRs still flash 12:00. OK, to be fair, there were many who were a bit further along the participation spectrum too — but even some of those folks revealed just how much this is a challenge for them too.
Addressing this group is very different than addressing those who are already very involved in social networking, but are just looking to improve their game. So we spent a considerable amount of time providing context for how they can approach and measure their participation in online activities in a way that matched their level of comfort. Basically online participation is not an all or nothing game. People need to find the level that works for them, and then eventually move up to the next level when that makes sense.
So to make this work, we defined 5 levels of participation, explained why each was relevant and potentially helpful to job seekers (and those who have jobs but are looking to develop other career opportunities), and we gave specific tips for getting started with each of the 5 levels. And we applied these levels to their participation in LinkedIn, Facebook, Blogs, and Twitter. That’s a lot to cover!
We also provided a specific action plan for the participants, so that when then left the workshop they had things they could do that afternoon. We also explained why each step would help them, and how to execute many of the steps. And we were very pleased to learn that many people did indeed take action against the plan (they emailed us to tell us).
One of the important messages we conveyed (and had them model for themselves) was developing a sense of community. They entered the workshop as individual job seekers, but left as teams. Each one had worked with at least four other participants developing specific ways to improve their on-line activities. We reinforced the notion of community support — one that Keystone, the sponsoring company, has been fostering for them. And we evolved the message into a physical and actualized behavior. They connected with each other and found a sense of shared fate and shared opportunity — the foundations for real community behaviors.
I’ve delivered many workshops on this topic to a variety of groups. But this event was a bit different, and indeed better than any I had done before — and that was due to having Dan co-present with me. Dan introduced a bunch of creative ways to convey the message through humor, physical exercises, and learning techniques that really engaged people at a deep level. Dan is a real master at content, curriculum, and learning. We faced many challenges that could have derailed the presentation: it was a 90 minute session. That’s long. We were in a big room, but the sound system did not work. The event started at 7:30 am. etc. So it was very important that we kept the energy very high, provided lots of entertainment in the way we conveyed the messages, and switched learning modalities in order to appeal to many learning styles.
The best part of the event was knowing that we were helping talented people learn skills that will help them get back to work. I know that getting laid off from work can really deliver a blow to the ego and send someone into a rut. It’s a very difficult life event, and can be demoralizing for many. But the people who showed up to the event were there to take back their careers and make something good happen for themselves. I applaud them for that!
If you participated at the event, please share your thoughts below. If you are interested in learning more about this event, drop me a note and we’ll talk.