I recognize the importance of networking in order to get ahead in life. It is, in the most literal sense of the phrase, a necessary evil.
However, can we acknowledge that it is immensely creepy and weird to keep a running spreadsheet of every person you met and how they can help you get ahead?
It’s quite telling that your friend did not want to be named in this article because he is socially conscious enough to realize that anyone who were to meet him after reading such a thing would be extremely wary of his intentions.
The whole networking experience is cheap and dehumanizing. It forces you to look at other people and see tools and stepping stones to further your own ends. It makes me feel cheap and dirty when I do it and extremely resentful when I feel that someone is trying to sidle up to me in order to leapfrog ahead.
Of course, in instances of genuine mutual interest and collaboration, there’s nothing wrong with an exchange of business cards, but how often does that actually occur? I think in most networking situations, there’s a game of predator and prey happening beneath the surface.
Again, I realize this is simply how we do things in our organized society. I just wish it didn’t have to be this way.