If there is one word I’ve always hated, it’s “networking.” Why it is necessary to give a special official-sounding name to going someplace and talking to people about things? That’s all “networking” is, with the added implication that while talking to people about things you’re forging connections that will help you in your career or business. It’s not the same as just “hanging out” or “socializing.” In fact, “networking” happens not because you legitimately enjoy another person’s company and have nothing superficial to gain from making contact with them. You network to gain something. How is this a positive thing?
The other day I noticed that someone I met at an event had requested me on Facebook with a special “networking profile.” Instead of the usual “this is my life” type of page that a person would use to share his or her life with friends through, this dude’s profile was bare bones and laid out more like a resume. All of the photos were from networking events, and he was clean-cut and stern-looking in his profile picture. Just a few clicks away was his real profile, which came up as a “suggested friend” for me (an inevitability I guess he hadn’t thought through). In that profile picture he was wearing a backwards cap and a “what’s up?” smile while throwing up deuces.
Aside from his commission of a throwback photo opportunity foul with the deuces throwing, this guy’s approach really rubbed me the wrong way. I have no open positions to hire him for and we’re not even in the same industry, but he cast his net as far and wide as possible for the sake of networking. Knowing people is great, but what better way is there to say “you are not actually my friend” than treating new people like cards in your rolodex? It makes sense to limit what you share with the world, but how many “selves” should a person present for the sake of such a vague concept of potential business connections?