Dear J.T. & Dale: I just took a new job I truly love. However, I’m finding one drawback — everyone is really into social media. They all have Twitter accounts, and some have their own blogs. I’m more of an outdoorsy person. The problem is it’s all people talk about, so I’m having a hard time connecting on a personal level. I’m worried it will hurt my ability to develop relationships and move up. What should I do? — Chris
J.T.: All it takes to build a bond is the slightest connection. I once worked with a woman who was my polar opposite. Every time we were together, I got an uneasy feeling. Then, one day, a book fell out of her bag. I had just read the book and loved it. “So,” I cautiously inquired, “what do you think of the book so far?” She responded: “I love it. I’m reading it for the second time.” I immediately launched into a conversation with her, and from that day forward our relationship changed. She became one of my closest colleagues, and we are still in touch today, years later.
Dale: Those outside-of-work interests are helpful, but what’s unique about your situation, Chris, is social media is something that actually can be directly useful to your work and career. I urge you not to say, “It takes all kinds,” and shrug off the most important cultural trend of recent years. Instead, explore where your interests overlap with social media, perhaps finding a blog or Facebook pages on, say, hiking that would start to pull you in.
J.T.: Here’s a thought: You could turn it around and ask your new colleagues to help you. They’ll appreciate your openness and your desire to get their input, and you’ll be on your way to forming new and better relationships.
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