I went to a professional networking event tonight, the annual monthly mixer for the San Diego chapter of the American Marketing Association.
I like going to these kinds of things. As a work-from-home professional blogger, I spend a ton of time standing in the same spot I’m standing now, staring at the computer display, alone. Julie comes in and talks to me and I give her a blank stare because I’m a million miles away. Then she leaves. Going to networking events is an opportunity to get the heck out of the house, wear something other than a T-shirt, and have the interpersonal interactions normal people get around the company coffee machine.
It’s also good professionally, of course. Maybe I’ll get a story idea out of it, or meet a potential writer, or make a professional connection who will prove useful next week or next month or in five years. Maybe I’ll just have some pleasant conversation. Either way is fine.
Professional networking has a bad reputation — or it did when I was starting out in the workplace. I guess people envision networkers as always been on the sell, always being on the lookout for themselves, always trying to sell you insurance or a used car. But done right it’s outward-directed. You try to connect other people, do things for other people, and don’t think about yourself. It comes around to help you out in the end.
I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking: Mitch, what’s with the hippy-dippy selflessness baloney? You keep singing kumbaya like that, soon you won’t be able to pay for all that Apple crap you keep buying, not to mention your house payments and car and food and doctor’s bills.
To which I respond: The hippy-dippy selflessness baloney is how I pay for all that.
-  She’s used to it, I think. ↩
-  I don’t want you to think I’m all sunshine and roses. Indeed, one of the constants of my career is to have former colleagues approach me and remind me of some time that I verbally cut a PR person or a corporate executive down to size. I smile and nod while they’re reminding me of the incident with great relish. And all the while, I’m thinking: “Wow, I vaguely remember that. It sounds like something I would have done. And it makes me sound like a real jerk.” ↩