How to Save the World, a blog I generally like, has a repulsive essay, The Ten Keys To Effective Networking.
The item is repulsive in part because it credibly argues that careers are furthered by treating people as means rather then ends, by selling yourself in a soundbite, and the display and exchange of favors. I’m fine with the exchange of favors stuff — I’m not that much of an ivory tower guy — and I understand that there are times in life when you have to sell. But the idea that you “prune your networks” (abandon people who are not useful), and “understand that every conversation is an implicit contract” (nothing can be abstractly interesting?) is just too much like what I least liked about living in Washington D.C.
And yes, there are a bunch of neat people I’ve met over the years that I wish I kept up with. Life just gets in the way.
[Original draft 3/21/2004. As part of my blog redesign, I've been going through draft blog posts that somehow never made it to publication. This is one of them.]
2010: I was reminded of this last night: we went to a very swanky law school event at an large and quite elegant home some small ways south of here. The guest list was studded with important people and large donors. I didn’t recognize many of them, and ran away from one of the few I did — a right-wing local congressperson — since it seemed like an occasion where I should be polite. We spoke to a few people we knew. We went home.