After a recent journey through part of Southern California, I had the opportunity to meet several design engineers, industry reps, and company owners. One of these meetings afforded me the chance to sit down with a family that owns and operates QuickSilver Controls. The president, Donald Labriola II, was in the room, albeit working on designing a new component, while the meeting ensued with his wife and marketing director, Diane Labriola.
The meeting ran like any typical visit, we discussed what’s new at PD&D, what we’re doing differently, our numbers, and our delightful, yet opinionated audience – until I mentioned social media.
As with any publishing company, we have expanded our social media presence on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn (I’m still holding out on Google+), but we often find it difficult to reach new readers in an engineering audience via these outlets. I jokingly made a comment about how tech-savvy engineers are, or rather should be, but questioned why they don’t want to tackle something as simple as Facebook.
It was at that moment that Mr. Labriola looked up from the computer and chimed into our conversation. Let’s just say that he provided a new understanding of the situation.
I’m paraphrasing, but Mr. Labriola said that when successful engineers reveal themselves on Facebook (and other social media outlets) they run the risk of being bombarded by likes, friend requests, and awkward digital conversations. From his experience, Mr. Labriola found himself over-stimulated, not by videos, terrible memes, and the occasional pictures of food, but rather by young engineers looking for college paper answers, recommendations, and even jobs.
Through my shock at the quiet engineer/president in the corner (who had been working in CAD, with little interest in marketing, until that moment), I quickly realized his point. As much as Facebook and LinkedIn are tools to connect to friends and media, they are also incredibly powerful engines for job searching and collaboration.
This brings up a challenging point, since social media (specifically, Facebook) seems to have waning policies on privacy: where is the line? These resources have the potential to be incredibly valuable for collaboration and connection among engineers and other great minds across multiple disciplines, but it also exposes valuable information to job-hungry, and potentially trolling, graduates, hobbyists, and aspiring inventors.
Truth is, the job market is not the same as it used to be, and companies (big or small) don’t have traditional hiring practices. Who can blame young engineers for using the tools at their disposal? At the same time, should successful industry veterans feel compelled to avoid social media to save their inboxes from piles of friend requests and half-cocked job inquiries?
This also skirts an interesting problem that I have heard quietly resonating through the engineering workforce: underqualified young engineers. But, that is a subject for another blog.
What are your thoughts on how engineers, young and old, use social media? Do you avoid Facebook to escape the clamoring noise of those looking for help? Have you used social media to advance your career? Comment below or email email@example.com.
And be sure to check out PD&D’s Facebook page.