The Networking Dilemma

I’ve never been very good at networking. Write it off to my introverted personality. While I’ve always been responsive to others who call on me for professional assistance, I’ve never felt comfortable doing the same. I still cringe at the prospect of requesting a letter of recommendation.

The dilemma of networking resides in the challenge of distinguishing genuine friendships from those professional connections existing solely to advance one’s own interests. I’ve experienced the sad sensation of feeling popular, being sought for the coffee meetings, the catching up on professional news, only to discover — when I no longer had an impressive job title — that those connections were never interested in me. This sounds terribly naive, I know, but it still stings.

I’ve engaged with social media in part because it is a requisite activity if one hopes to publish fiction. I’m crafting my on-line persona as I’m indulging in my art and craft. The boundaries are clean. Few people seek to friend me because I am, at the moment, no one, but when someone does invite me to be a friend, I understand that they likely have little interest in me, except as a potential buyer of a book. It’s pretty straightforward.

I’ve been heartened by the audience for this blog, in fact touched that a few people have elected to follow me. (Another odd misplaced word.) Paradoxically, I understand that by following these inconsistent posts there is an implicit quid pro quo. It’s much like the game of charitable giving. I’ll buy a raffle ticket for your cause if you’ll buy a raffle ticket for mine. So thank you followers. I am lax in reciprocating, but I’m working on it. I know that following isn’t necessarily reading. But I’m always glad to sell the ticket even if you’re not attending the event. You need not be present to win.

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