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What Mark Zuckerberg Knows About the Power of Personal Recognition

By Cord Himelstein

Even though his organization is all about connecting people virtually, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently did a stellar job connecting in person when he inadvertently delivered a clinic on workplace presentations for an employee’s 10-year anniversary.

Employee Kang-Xing Jin, known as “KX” to his colleagues, was a dear friend of Zuckerberg’s in college and was one of the first employees of Facebook when it was starting up back in the early 2000s. In a post to his profile page, Zuckerberg shared a photo of the workplace presentation along with a thoughtful write-up that hit all the right notes.

Insight No. 1: You need an ice breaker

Make sure to break the ice with a humorous story that captures the employee’s character.

I met KX on our first day of class at Harvard. I had been up coding the night before, and in my exhaustion I walked into class with my shirt on inside out and backwards. KX was the only person who didn’t think it was weird. He later told me he didn’t even notice.”

Insight No. 2: Get personal, but tie it to your mission

It's great to share a personal anecdote about the person you're recognizing, but make sure to tie it back in to your organization’s mission.

KX and I ended up working on computer science and math problem sets together, and we’d go out to pizza almost every night at this place called Pinocchio’s — we called it Noch’s — in Harvard Square. We used to talk about the future and how we thought technology was going to change things… about how one day someone was going to build a community to connect the whole world. We never thought it might be us.”

Insight No. 3: Show how they impact the organization

Give some specific examples of how the employee is essential to the success of the larger organization.

KX likes to remind me that he actually graduated from college before coming out to California. Still, over the years he’s worked on almost everything we’ve built. He was on the team that built the first version of News Feed. He helped run our business and advertising services. Now he’s in charge of a big part of the Facebook app and continues to play a huge role in shaping what Facebook is today.”

Insight No. 4: Don't forget - give thanks for what they do

Don't stop before giving heartfelt and genuine thanks to this person for their overall efforts.

KX, thank you for helping me get me through those two years of college and — more importantly — for helping connect so many people. You’ve been an amazing friend and partner every step of the way.”

The power of human connections

Nailed it! Zuckerberg’s post has since garnered over 300,000 likes and has been shared over 7,000 times. While recognition methods are becoming increasingly virtual in the digital age, it’s easy to forget that good old-fashioned in-person recognition is still a thing, even at one of the techiest of all the tech companies in Silicon Valley.

And why shouldn’t it be? There is an unmistakable potency and tactile quality in a personal presentation that technology may never be able to replicate. That’s why all your digital recognition efforts should be balanced with analog, in-person efforts.

You could be like Mark Zuckerberg — make a workplace presentation, and then share the experience on social media so everyone can get in on the fun. Whatever you do, mix it up, and don’t underestimate the power of human connections.

Editor’s note: Checkster, the parent company of the Talent Insider blog, can help you hire great candidates to support your culture with the Reference Checkup tool, and can help you better evaluate candidate interviews with the Interview Checkup.

This originally appeared on the Michael C. Fina blog

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