Networking Nightmares on Hold
One of the advantages of self-isolation is that I don’t have to network. I don’t mean networking as in stealing (I prefer the word ‘borrowing’) my neighbour’s Wi-Fi. However, if you use your street name as a password you CLEARLY want to share.
I’m referring to networking as in that outdated system of ‘face to face communication’. For those too young to remember, this consists of standing in front of other human beings and engaging in impromptu ‘talking’ and sometimes making strange noises called ‘laughter’ (which, by the way, is the sound made by LOL). All this without a screen to keep you safe in the comfort of your cosy cloud cocoon.
Scary? It gets worse. On many occasions, you will be forced to do this with complete strangers! Absolutely no time to Google, Instagram or Tinderize them. To make matters worse you’re expected to answer questions like, ‘Do you like the canapes?’, totally off the cuff! You can’t even Tweet-UP #DryCanapes for an answer.
Now you might be forgiven for preferring Netflix to Networking (I certainly do) but hear me out, because studies show that this archaic ritual is the answer to all business, sales and revenue problems! It even helps with insomnia, which I totally understand because if I had all my business, sales and revenue problems solved, I’d sleep like a sloth at siesta time.
The issue is the activity itself: NETWORKING. Defined as: A group of dedicated people who are committed to maintain a relationship with each other in order to support a given set of activities. Forgive me but DEDICATION, COMMITMENT and SUPPORT are really BIG words that remind me of my marriage vows. And as much as I’d love to tell you how that turned out…
Divorce and alimony aside, fear of networking is universal. A recent survey shows most of us would rather face a wild tiger in the jungle rather than engage in this activity. In some extreme cases, PUBLIC SPEAKING was listed as ‘preferable’ to networking!
We all hope the worldwide health crisis will soon end, but when it does, what are people with Networkingphobia going to do? Well, you’re in luck because before self-isolation became a mandate, I went on the NETWORKING network and gathered exclusive, never before published techniques on how … NOT TO NETWORK.
We start off with NETWORKING PASSIVELY, a technique used by most first timers because of its simplicity. I stand around looking lost and observing my shoes with the keen interest of a pathologist searching for the Corona-virus vaccine. I’m hoping a big promoter will approach and ask, ‘Do you want to headline the APOLLO next week?’ Unfortunately, this does not happen. Instead, after hours and hours of shoe-searching a waiter comes and says, ‘We’re closing’.
This leads to NETWORK ENVY, an offshoot of PASSIVELY, when I realize everyone else is part of a fun-filled group, talking, laughing and having a good time! Business contacts are flying around faster than insults at the reading of my grandma’s will. As all this revenue-making- activity is happening, I’m stuck with a weirdo who gives me a 30-minute-non-stop-monologue on model trains. For the record I have nothing against model trains, but aren’t we supposed to take turns talking? That’s what it says in Google.
Trapped in what is described as NETWORKING NEGATIVELY, I try to extricate myself from this tedious nonversation by using the excuse that countless people have used when they want to get away from me in a social situation, ‘I’ll be back. … I’m just going to the toilet’. And while I wait around like a bozo thinking they’ll actually come back, they’ve moved on to talk to someone much more interesting. Unfortunately, with ‘model train guy’ when I don’t return, he hunts me down, ‘So there you are! I was waiting for you blah blah blah …’.
So then I become what is officially known as a NETWORKING PUSHOVER, a person who cannot get out of a bad networking situation or get their voice to be heard. I have to stoically endure another 30 minutes on models, this time on ‘How to make a cheap but aesthetically pleasing pond for your model’. Apparently, it takes artistry and creativity.
Finally, with zero contacts but a train load of model knowledge, I go to the nearest bar and ask for too many G&Ts.
At least the barman’s listening.
Sonia Aste is a writer who believes self-isolating has its perks. #stayhomesavelives
This was blog was published by PORTFOLIO PEOPLE