I’ve recently read a book about networking and I’ve heard about it for years, but, I don’t get it.
I’m an introverted person. When I hear the word “networking,” I think about going up to complete strangers and bragging about yourself in hopes that said stranger will give you a job, or by your product, or whatever. It all sounds like a lot of uncomfortable talk to me. I don’t like bragging about myself. What are you supposed to do after that introduction anyway?
People at a networking event:
Hi, I’m Bob. I work at Logistics Corporation in finance.
Hi, Bob, I’m John, I work at Logix Corporation in data processing.
What are you supposed to say next?
How’s the finance world? How’s data processing? Do you like data processing? Can you tell me the history of data processing?
I mean, really, what in the heck are you supposed to say to a person after you have pretty much walked up to them and pulled your Ace out of your sleeve?
So I can go up to someone and spew all of that out, but isn’t that weird? Why would the somebody else care? I don’t even say all of that stuff when I go for a job interview. I think it’s pretty darn impressive, but it would be really weird if I just went up to someone and vomited that information out. What’s even weirder to me is a bunch of people in the same place doing the same thing.
I forgot to add that I’m pretty good at Scrabble to that list.
The concept of going up to someone else and talking about how important you supposedly are, has always seemed as dishonest to me, or rather, lacking in character. It goes against the idea of being humble. Yeah, I’m awesome, but I don’t have to go say it to everyone I meet. I don’t need to go to some “networking meeting” and tell everyone there I’m awesome, especially when they’re all trying to tell me that they’re awesome. I don’t particularly care that they’re saying they’re awesome and I’m sure they don’t particularly care about me saying I’m awesome. It all seems like a big farce.
It shouldn’t matter what you can say about yourself; it should matter what you can do. If I can do these wonderful things, my work should speak for itself. Conversations about my merit should really be something like, “Hi, my name is Ashe Arterberry, let me show you what I can do.” If my work is up to snuff, then I should be hired, or collaborated with, or whatever the case may be.
My whole misunderstanding of networking is also compounded by the fact that in my personal experience people who are good at networking, are simply good at schmoozing, and while that may be great for that aspect of life, they can’t actually back up all their schmoozing. They’re like professionals at going up to other people and bragging about the things they can do, but if you actually looked at their results, it wouldn’t be that impressive. They think the end-all is knowing how to talk the talk. In reality, I think it’s better to know how to walk the walk, if you had to choose.
In my personal experience, I have always gotten to do something based on my merit, rather than because I “knew someone.” Knowing someone has never gotten me a job or a big opportunity. Being good at what I can do is what has gotten me advantages in life.
So in the end, I’m still very confused about networking.