Time to get a little racy. You ready? People… wait for it… are fake.
As someone new to serious networking, the game always seems to be figuring out who a friend is, who an acquaintance is, and who’d sooner use you as a shoe horn than help you. Someone asked me recently, “You aren’t so naive to believe these people are your friends right?” I chuckled, and answered “You aren’t so naive to think it isn’t intentional?”
Don’t get me wrong, there are people out there who genuinely want to build a relationship with you, but more often than not they want an answer to a question that hasn’t been asked yet. “Do I have a web guy?” “Do I know a caterer?” “Do I have someone in the press on speed dial?”
I think I choose to be idealistic in that regard, I really am what you see. I thrive on fear, and when I’m in that uncomfortable “I don’t know anybody time to say hi” meet and greet setting I’m on full adrenalin. Maybe not the best representation of my Green Lantern fandom, but “feel the fear and do it anyway” has always been a big life quote for me since I read it on ZenHabits.
I’m afraid, I think, because I haven’t developed my bull shit face yet. I’m not a compartmentalizer and I sometimes feel at a disadvantage when I’m up against true bull shitters, fake smiles, forced curiosity, emptiness.
Maybe I’m looking at it all wrong. When I shake your hand, it’s because I genuinely want to know your name, know what you do, and see what you’re all about. I am a student of people, and all this stuff truly does excite me. Doesn’t mean I think you’re my new BFF.
So if the goal in all of this is to build relationships, being myself might be the best policy. Doesn’t mean I won’t waste my time shaking the hand of someone who won’t remember my name, but at the end of the day their own agenda might drag me along to meeting someone new, someone that will surprise me.
The alternative is being like them. Putting on that fake smile, and doing this whole networking thing for the wrong reasons. I think I choose reality, what you see is what you get.
Fakers be damned.