(Palo Alto, CA) Earlier today at a gathering of business professionals, salesman and capitalist Jonathan Stepford was in his element. He was schmoozing, he was schmazzing, he was talking it up. Big time. This was Jonathan’s favorite thing to do. He loved the rust of introducing himself over and over. He yearned for the repetition of the conversation, something that allowed him to hone his skills, his anecdotes, and most importantly his pitch. Only, this afternoon, Jonathan was speaking with some people he had just met and mentioned something about how ‘loved these networking events.’ Each of them gave him an odd look and Stacy, the woman to his left, asked “What’s networking?” Jonathan paused for a moment, trying to figure out a way to explain it without sounding like a sociopath.
First, acting like a sociopath is not good behavior when trying to win clients. You want to be the opposite of that, you know? Almost too much, but just on the edge. Also, it’s not very in line with the Jonathan brand.
Secondly, how do you explain it without coming across as an emotionless monster. Let’s see, you could simply say, “Oh, networking? It’s that thing where I talk to each of you, pretend like I care about you, find out what I can use you for, and if that interests me, I’ll add you on LinkedIn. Just in case, you know.” Just in case for what? They would ask, and you would realize you had been compiling a weird sort of list. Like something a serial killer might have. God help you.
Jonathan just kept trying to think about a way to tell people that he was doing every single thing in his life selfishly. This wasn’t totally about the networking thing, he had been having a rough month, year, whatever. None of his relationships were panning out. People kept saying he was too shallow, like that even means anything. They’re probably just jealous of how good he looks in that suit, he thought to himself, sadly.
By the end of his long though, the people he had been speaking with had moved away because he never replied. Not very on brand, Johnny. Better move on to the next group of unsuspecting networkees. It was, after all, only a matter of time.
Only Jonathan and maybe that initial group of people would know that something had gone wrong. He could deal with that. He would live. Or, whatever.
This article was written by my neighbor while I fixed his car. Not bad. Follow him @NPEllwood.