The classic book “How To Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie (pictured) was first published in 1936. This week, a new edition of the title was released, and it is packed with all new information for the digital era.
Over the past 75 years or so, while our means and ways have shifted toward the electronic, our motives have remained fairly constant. We still want people to like us. We still need people to do us favors. We still need to balance the personal and the professional in our friendships.
“One cannot argue that the fundamental techniques originally crafted by Carnegie, including how to be genuinely interested in other people, how to be a good listener and how to win people to your way of thinking by having them respect you, are not long-standing theories,” said Peter Handal, chief executive at Dale Carnegie & Associates, in an interview with VentureBeat.
“However, with Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and blogging, our workplace is forever changed. Gone are the days of building a friendship through face-to-face communications; instead we resort to email, texting, phone calls and video sessions for meetings.”
But Handal says we can still succeed in being professional, likable and helpful to others using these new media and Carnegie’s original philosophies.
“The principles are even more relevant today,” he said. “The original ‘How To Win Friends and Influence People’ was written during the 1930s when we were in the Great Depression and employment was at an all-time low. It’s fair to argue that we are again in an economic downturn where it’s difficult for leaders and small businesses to flourish. This fact alone means that the book is still relevant.”
Handal also told us that the original book’s overarching principle, which remains intact in the new version, is still applicable and encompasses all best practices for our online interactions.
“Influencing others is not necessarily about being the smartest, but it is about discerning what people truly want and offering them a solution,” he said. “When we say to influence people online to gain friends, it really means listen to their conversation. By listening and then participating, which can be done through leaving comments on a blog or sending a thoughtful email, you are swaying them to your side of the conversation.”
There’s almost no profession that the online world doesn’t touch. Teachers, CEOs, store clerks, customer service reps and many other offline workers are impacted professionally by their Facebook activity and other online comings and goings.
“I don’t think you could name one employer who wasn’t using the Internet to check your background,” said Handal. “No matter what your profession is — if you’re in sales, a babysitter or an executive of a Fortune 500 company — what you’re doing online does matter.”
Of course, these concepts, both how to behave professionally and how to be professional online, aren’t new. But Handal says this book’s revamping brings something new to the table. It not only shows us how to avoid hurting ourselves with our online behavior; it also tell us how we can take these online tools and be proactive about using them to benefit our careers and lives.