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.
The link does not appear to go to the essay.
Works from here. What do you get? (You may have to take their cookie.)
I got it. Part of the page loaded right away, but the article took a while. I guess when I first checked I must have just given up too soon.
But is it repulsive because it’s true? Much of it seems completely accurate to me and reflects what little of I’ve seen in politics and conferencing. There’s an idea that nice people don’t act that way, and the reality that nice or not, many people do. And the trick seems to be to indeed act that way while steadfastly giving the impression that you do not (which is extremely tough, but if it were easy, it wouldn’t be a problem).
It’s not “nothing can be abstractly interesting”, but rather, that’s like going to a single’s bar for the flavor of the liquor which is served. That’s not why people are there.
Yes, I think the repulsion is linked to the truth of it; otherwise it would just be wrong and boring. I did call it “credible” after all.
As a somewhat jaded junior associate, it’s at least a little bit comforting to read this post. If anything, as someone who loves learning about the law and, at some level, being a “lawyer,” it validates my own repulsion of being forced to network and market and all that horrible stuff.
Also, I wanted to add an inexcusably belated congratulations on your recovery.