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I Do Not Believe In Networking

I recently had an unpleasant experience. Someone reached out with an opportunity that was supposed to be mutually beneficial. I explored it. Turns out it was total bullshit. Institutional exploitation. It was like a friend trying to sell you into bonded labor.

Obviously, that was offensive. To some degree on a professional level, but moreso on a personal level, because its someone I’ve known for a long time, someone I trusted to want to change the world, and someone I mistakenly believed had my best interests at heart.

That experience got me thinking about professional networks. I realized I don’t really believe in such a thing.

I find it to be like those business card exchanges that are disguised as ‘networking happy hours.’ It’s a very superficial, oddly competitive environment. People identifying targets, sorting them into tiers of importance, interrupting each other in an effort to spout their talking points first. Frankly, every time I’ve experienced that, I feel like everyone has their head up their own ass. Probably why I feel dirty coming away from them.

What I do believe in, are friendships, and though any of my friends will tell you I can do a much better job at maintaining these, it’s in them that I find life rewarding. Not just in the first, close circle, but the layer around that, and the next.

There is meaning in sharing experiences. In engaging in honest conversations that sometimes lead to professional collaboration,  but more often than not, just feedback and the back and forth that is human. That’s rewarding. That’s personal/professional growth.

Without the bullshit. Without your vampire squid trying to suck out my lifeblood.



-Shlok
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4 Comments
  • Arturo Prat (@LiftMyLuggage)
    Feb 12, 2012
  • (@nof) (@nof)
    Feb 12, 2012

    I Do Not Believe In Networking http://t.co/L2HLYdUV

    Reply
  • Networking events seem like magnets for hustlers and parasites.

    The true opportunity for contacts is everyday life; parties, work, anywhere. When I meet new people I like to see how long can I get them to talk about themselves before they ask about me. I’m genuinely interested. Not looking for support for my current thing, but to find out who they really are. It’s fun, and interesting. Most people have done some very wild stuff at some point, or have been in close proximity to it. At the very least you’ll get some stories. Getting better at this but I’ll never be as good as my wife; one of her super-powers if finding common ground with strangers.

    Meeting neighbors is a rich source of contacts for all manner of stuff. Also allows bridging of the mundane to the career-useful. Super important, politically connected guy down the street still needs someone to take care of his cat when he’s away. And it’s great to knock on the door of a neighbors you know when you need a cup of sugar or someone to take your kids for a few hours while you go to the hospital.

    Too lazy to look for it right now, but there is a paper somewhere talking about the more effective people in corporations being those who *do* the most favors. Want a network that can help you? Try to help others first and one will magically appear.

    Reply
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