Many of us, myself included, probably spend a bit too much time on social media. Why? Because it provides a way for us to find and consume relevant knowledge recommended by professionals in our network.
But there is a more important reason why engaging in professional networking is valuable to us: it increases our potential for fulfilment. How? Because it enables us to give the most valuable things we have: our time and our attention.
Motivational guru and life coach Tony Robbins believes that we can only achieve real fulfilment if we are
- growing, and
- giving beyond ourselves
Sharing information with your professional network can be viewed as a way to grow. Identifying and sharing relevant information requires us to empathise with the needs of those in our network, and think critically about the information they are likely to find useful. But if we go beyond sharing and take the time to comment on other people’s ideas, we become more fulfilled as we our giving our time and our energy to formulate meaningful responses to their activity.
You don’t have to do it, you can just read what they wrote. But taking the time to consider their idea and formulate a useful response is a way to give beyond ourselves, and empower that person further through dialogue.
Our lives are becoming increasingly distracted. A recent Microsoft report found that the average attention span is now 8 seconds, down from 12 seconds in 2000. That’s less than a goldfish. As we are able to consume more information on more platforms than ever before, our attention is rapidly becoming the most valuable commodity that we possess – and everybody wants a piece of it. If attention is the new currency of the internet, then the concept of ‘paying attention’ is increasingly likely to assume the financial value it implies.
Learning how to pay attention in a world of distraction is becoming a critical skill. Understanding the mechanisms through which social networking can lead to growth and fulfilment is vital if we are to prevent technology from determining both our future happiness and our productivity.
Humans are social creatures, and words are one of the primary tools we use to construct our reality. The Internet, and in particular social networking, provide us with a powerful means of growing and giving beyond ourselves, helping us to become more fulfilled in the process.
All it takes is a little time and attention.