Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Why I Want to Punch the Word "Networking" In the Face

Resistance is futile...
I've been spending a fair amount of time on The LinkedIn lately, reading discussion threads, jumping in when I feel like I have something to contribute, but mostly just trying not to throw things at my computer screen.

Why the urge toward monitor abuse, you ask? Because of networking.

God I hate that word. I hate it. It's a stupid word and it deserves to be punted into the sun, like synergy and leverage (unless you're using leverage to describe the way the Incredible Hulk held up that mountain during the Secret Wars, then it's cool.)

Networking. Gah. Whatever happened to being a person? Whatever happened to having friends? When did we all become nodes?

I see long LinkedIn threads with suggestions like "Let's all Like each other's profiles!" or "Let's all subscribe to each other's Twitter feeds!" and it makes me want to smack the internet.

Is this what we've come to? Just blindly and arbitrarily accumulating critical social mass in the hopes that someone, somewhere will be our ticket to the promised land?

Screw that. 

Look, I get it. I know that it's good to meet people, make connections, hobnob and all that jazz. It all just seems a bit mercenary sometimes, like that guy you meet at a party at 9:00pm and who, by 9:03, has already asked you to recommend him to someone you know. You met him three minutes ago, and he's already trying to pole vault off of you and up to the next level.

You probably hate people like that, but at least they have the guts (or complete lack of judgement) to peddle their wares in person. The internet gathers up hordes of people like that, strips them of all semblance of accountability, injects them with the rage virus, and points them straight at you.

Maybe this sounds like I'm telling everyone to get off my lawn. I'm not. Not at all. If you want to engage me as a person, chat, trade ideas, stop, collaborate, and/or listen, I'm in.

But if you're asking a crowd of complete internet strangers to link to you or Like you or retweet you or introduce you to Steven Spielberg, sight unseen, then please just stop. It's tacky. I know everyone is doing it, but you remember those lawn ornaments that looked like an old lady bending over in her bloomers? Everyone was doing that, too. That didn't make it ok.

I guess what I'm saying is, if you don't like my stuff, don't Like my stuff. Let's all keep our honor intact and fight the good fight.

I recently read Stephanie Palmer's Good in a Room, and it was the first time in a long time (or maybe ever) that I'd read a book about networking that didn't make me feel like I was learning how to seduce a game show host.

I highly recommend it.

(And no, she didn't ask me to.) 

Image: renjith krishnan /