Thursday, October 14, 2010

Need costume ideas? May I suggest "networking vampire"?

Being funemployed has got me thinking a lot about meeting new people, not just meeting people for friendship, although that's nice, but "networking" as those crazy kids are calling it these days.

Networking has never been my thing, not least of all because I'm almost entirely face-blind. I have no trouble remembering names or details about the people I meet, I can just never figure out if this brown haired guy at the bus stop is the same brown haired guy from the gym about whom I know those things.

At the point in the conversation where I'm supposed to say, "Oh, right! Because you're a cliff diving concert pianist, it makes perfect sense," instead I say, "mmmm," and nod because I'm not really sure if that was you.

I'm the type of person who could name your grandmother's childhood goldfish, but probably couldn't find you in an elevator.

Actually, it would be very helpful for me if everyone I know or semi-know would wear a bright red top hat with their name on it. That way, when I saw you coming toward me on the street, I would instantly know that I'm supposed to recognize you, and your name would help me remember why. Maybe you could make me some flash cards to jog my memory. That would be helpful.

Unfortunately, that wouldn't be the end to my networking problems. You see, the main problem I have with networking is the idea that introducing yourself to someone makes them obligated to help you.

For example, I could walk up to you at a restaurant and say, "Hi, I'm so-and-so," and tell you a bit about myself and ask about you...and now I know you, and now I can tell other people I know you, and I can call on you when I need something.

Is that what you wanted? It doesn't matter.

Your new contact is like a vampire. You've said they can come into your house and now it's all over. By merely reaching out and giving a firm handshake, you've agreed to make special allowances for your new friend. Pretty soon you'll be flapping your tiny little bat wings beneath the full moon when you'd much rather be home on your couch watching "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown."

Even if you already know the person, it still sucks (ha! vampire joke) when they ask you to help them if you weren't planning to already.

I'm curious about the point where a friend starts to become a nuisance, or an acquaintance oversteps their bounds with their requests for a boost.

Has anyone out there ever been in a situation where someone asked too much of you and used your friendship as an excuse to suck you dry?

How about the other way around? Have you ever befriended someone for the purpose of getting ahead?

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