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Web 2.0 in the workplace: Say "hello," not "goodbye"

How much of our personalities is being lost behind Web 2.0? We Facebook, we blog, we get hooked up in LinkedIn, we SMS and email and twitter – but who are we portraying and who exactly is on the other end? And I’m not talking about customizing your Ning network with your personal preferences or updating your Facebook status as a way of portraying who you are. I’m talking about the human interaction.

Not just in a “Kumbaya” sort of way— but from a professional standpoint. Especially with the current economic situation, where layoffs and hiring freezes are very real concerns – are we slowly phasing ourselves out by not coming in?

In my daily scan of compelling tech news and points of interest, I came across a “This I Believe” NPR recording titled “The power of hello.” Ready to slow my search and kick back with my earbuds, I listened to the podcast by Howard White, a Nike executive.

In his own words, White recounts a moment from his childhood that changed his life: His mother scolded him for not acknowledging a neighbor, saying, “You let that be the last time you ever walk by somebody and not open up your mouth to speak, because even a dog can wag its tail when it passes you on the street.”

White continues on to describe his role in Nike and how after years of conversation with the founder, he finally got the courage to ask him for a meeting and … the rest is history.

I know, I thought it sounded a bit Pursuit of Happyness, myself – but I immediately began to think of it in context of my own job. And yours.

Knowing the people you work with by face and not just by AIM screen name gets things done. You know who to ask, where to go and who will go the extra mile to help you make a deadline.

With more and more people telecommuting and instant messaging (in and out of the office), are we losing our office humanity? Rather, is being just a face in the crowd (or a name on the email list) making it easier for you to be overlooked as a strong, capable, employee who should be promoted and kept around? And for CIOs, do you look for someone with personality and team camaraderie when making hiring (or firing) decisions?

I certainly get caught up in the tech world. It’s exciting, it’s opened doors to worldwide communication and “anywhere connectivity.” But I also see the importance of making oneself known as a person and not just an employee or a name. Maybe it’s just nice to know your team and feel good in your work environment.

Maybe I’m not willing to settle for a toothy-grinned emoticon.

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