The Opposite of Networking

That moment. The one where you enter a room full of robots clad in business attire. When all the faces seem a little blurry, when you can’t recognise anyone. The scene looks as sterile as a surgery table. And if you’re very lucky, someone approaches you, hand outstretched.

Once the “Hi, I’m ____” is out of the way, you already know what is coming next. You don’t give a shit where that person is from. Admit it, you don’t. Because you never get the person who says proudly, “Actually, I grew up in the jungles of Indonesia. Sounds like a rough childhood, but I could start a fire using…”

No. You get the person who mumbles, “oh, I’m from Syracuse”. Your desire to tell him where you’re from is exactly… zero.

Why do we put ourselves through this torture?

Perhaps a better question: why do other people keep recommending it? Those people are masochists. Or they hate you. If everyone kept a rolodex the size of Keith Ferrazzi’s, the cellular networks would be shut down with meaningless five-minute ‘pings’. (Thank goodness that’s not the case, because I could never have a suitably long chat with my mom.)

What’s the alternative?

How about skipping the social events that hold no meaning for you? Yes, I’m recommending being ‘less social’. Imagine a world where you bailed on all of the cocktail parties and networking events, spending it instead with people who you truly care about. Not because they work for a company that your company would like to sell to. Because you like them, as people.

You’d be hosting lively dinner discussions at home and taking weekend trips to meet up with your best friends from college. This policy doesn’t preclude you from making new friends, either: It means eating lunch with the intriguing guy who just joined the marketing department.

These people probably care about you, too. They might even ask about something besides where you’re from. If you’re looking for a “network”, I know no better way.