Well, essentially, don’t do it. It’s weak, it’s ugly, it’s transparent and if you want to be a ‘nice’ person (though I cringe at the very thought) it’s something you do naturally and isn't forced.
I’ve written about this truly disgusting faux pas before and because it is probably the most truly horrid thing I encounter I can’t help but point and expose it again to those coming into advertising.
Now, having contacts is different, why? Because you come into contact with them on a purely mutual-benefit basis where each party cuts through the bullshit
“Have you got X, Y or Z?”
“Well fuck off then”
“Have you got X, Y or Z?”
“Great, you can have A if I can have Z”
..and everyone is happy and no false friends who are utter tools have been made. However, networking is a whole different kettle of fish. Networking is usually at these over priced conferences or dos which 9/10 times spout utter common sense about something totally irrelevant at a bunch of pen and paper scribbling zombies.
I’m being really harsh today, apologies, I’m trying to get a meeting sorted and someone can’t make this time, and the other can’t make that time…anyway, it’s pissing me off.
So, where was I? Ah yes, the slime. So at these events which you may or may not attend and you may or may not enjoy due to the content being either semi interesting or just plain mundane (I hasten to add that there are 2 I know of which are great – out of about a zillion) you’ll break for lunch and THAT is the ‘networking que’.
You’ll spot the speakers being swarmed with fake smiles, nodding heads and sycophantic praise. You’ll see business cards being dealt and I bet most of the time people are getting dodgy hands. You’ll see the young running around desperate to speak to that famous blogger, that award winning creative or just anyone who looks like they’re kinda employed. Don’t do it, it’s not cool, big and certainly not clever.
Why not? It’s a social industry? It’s about meeting new people isn’t it? It’s about you scratch my back I’ll scratch yours? Well, no, I’m sorry it isn’t in my humble opinion. Please don’t think I’m placing any score by my advice being richer than the next, you can choose to take it or dismiss it, I’m simply ranting here as this is my assigned place to do so and I’ve been asked to give you my honest views. I don’t claim either to be seriously senior or command decades of experience, what I do have however is experience from where you’ve come from and where I am now, 3 years in over 5 agencies. That and I’m not exactly the most cheerful of online personalities so as before, all with a pinch. Jesus that was a rationalisation and a half, so back to the point of why it isn’t all that hand shaking, false smiles, friends for 30mins and arse licking crap. Well, no one cares anymore about who you know, what names you can drop, the shoulders you’ve brushed or the conferences you’ve attended. What they care about is you. You and your ability. You and your ambition and capacity to deliver great ideas to make your clients look great through great work. That’s it. I never attend these things without a close friend who is my friend or I attend alone and spend lunch time smoking outside rather than chit chatting crap to people I have not even a vague interest in. That’s not to say you can’t meet people at such events, nothing is impossible after all, but if you’re transparent in your motives, you appear desperately in need of help, it just, well, doesn’t look good. Just be you, if you have a scathing personality unleash it, if you like to recruit friends as if you’re looking for a new family then do it I guess, but never bend or distort who you are and build phoney bridges to get ahead, because they usually amount to zero.
Furthermore, last time I looked I was here to work in a commercial industry not a social networking one. I always harp back to Richard Huntington’s post, but it’s true. No one gives two shits if you’re a nice person who has more bloggers as friends on your facebook than you can sling tripe at. What people care about, again, is your ability and that within a work environment. Look at it like this, girls always prefer the bad boy, the darker one, the different one. Don’t be a social sheep.
On that note, who wants to organise a get together eh?