Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Real-Time Networking

I was away on hiatus last week in LA. During my break from the day-to-day race of making goals and meeting deadlines I decided to touch bases with some friends and work peers.

Despite the proliferation of online social networks that are designed to help us maintain our networks active and alive, I still believe that the old-fashioned telephone call and actual face-to-face time with people has deeper benefits than online social networks. I would call this type of networking as "real time" which in computer terminology is generally meant as something actually happening in the moment.

I've worked in the IT industry for over 15 years, and during that period I found my job/career opportunities through my social network of peers with whom I've worked with. That said, it's important never to break bridges, though sometimes some situations can be sticky for professional and/or personal reasons that I had decided to move on to greener pastures.

In the past twenty-five years (plus or minus) most people have changed their places of work more than 5 times (probably more for some people.) I think this scenario is more common than uncommon. I did work for one company where my manager had worked for only one company throughout his career that spanned seventeen years. That is the same length of time I've been working in IT (Information Technology.)

He was impressed that I had worked at over seven companies during that period of time (not including working the same company we were working for.) I was equally impressed that he could have stayed so long in one company during that period of time. There were vast differences in the outcome of our choices. While he has a deep knowledge of his company's business (manufacturing and distributing consumer electronics); I had a deep knowledge of "business processes", because I've been exposed to seeing how many different companies operate.

This new insight led me to understand that he is dependent on his company's ability to maintain and thrive in current economic conditions. If for some reason the company could no longer sustain work for him then I wonder what social network he has to fall on to look for another job. Meanwhile I have quite a rich social network that I've fallen back on to help me grab on to the next vine as I swing through the job opportunities jungle. My eyes are constantly roving and looking out for what's the newest technology and business process improvement methods. This aspect of my career is important, and so I do work to keep in touch with people. It's also a personal need I have to constantly evolve my thought and work process, and that can only happen with exposure to different environments and people.

It's not always convenient to get together with peers. Often, I'm keeping in touch by way of e-mail, online chat, and less often by on-line social networks.

I find these days that those who have access to Internet and mobile phones are sometimes bogged down with maintaining calendars, synchronizing data between laptops and mobile phones, keeping track of all their e-mails (at work, and yahoo/hotmail/gmail accounts.) We need to be concerned with backing up the data in case data get corrupted; and when a server is down then everyone is affected like a grid going down and the lights have gone out.

I sometimes wonder if our society is more vulnerable to losing touch with professional peers and friends if we get so dependent on technology and online networks. I believe that investing real-time with people has lasting effects because as people we ultimately look for and need the nuances of reading facial expressions and hearing the tones between the lines.

-Analyn Revilla

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