Networking. Does anyone like it? I have to do it because of my job but it is not my thing. To be fair, I do get away with it these days because I often come across the same people so there is not that terrible ice breaker thing. I shudder when I think about myself wearing a “Hello. My name is Martha” badge and sitting in a circle. When I think of the things that I have done. I remember once kneeling on the floor of a meeting room with batteries tucked into the bend at the back of my knees. This was part of a team building exercise where I had been chosen to prove that if a battery is dead it can sometimes be coaxed into giving out a little bit more power when it has been warmed up a little. (It was a choice between back of my knees or my armpits. Ugh. It worked though) And don’t get me going on the disastrous clapping in unison ice breaker.
It will therefore be no surprise that the word Networking can bring me out in hives. It’s not just the thought of doing it although for someone as shy as me it is a major hurdle. It also that it seems like pretending. Let us all talk together like we are friends, then I will take your business card and I will remember you when I need my boiler mending and you will remember me when you need a mobility scooter. It’s all rubbish really. However, sometimes when I walk into a room where there are strangers – especially at the moment where we are tentatively looking at making a new church our home – I sometimes wish that I was better at it.
I saw a YouTube film. In it, a young woman was explaining how she had moved to London knowing no-one and had gradually “networked” (her speech marks, not mine) her way into a friendship group she loved and a publishing job that she wasn’t particularly qualified for. She had thought carefully about how she had managed to “network” so successfully and although she admitted that she was probably happier than most to do it, she also felt that she had understood the reason why it had worked so well. She said that all she did was to be genuinely interested in the person she was talking to. She found that when she thought less about herself and more about the person she was with, she found that conversations flowed and friendships blossomed. Funnily enough, it never actually worked if she pretended she was interested, only if she did it properly. And I wonder again if it is kind of this
For whosoever will save his life shall lose it, and whosoever will lose his life for My sake shall find it.
If we pull in towards ourselves to preserve ourselves, then maybe that is all we get – just self preservation. Nothing else. But if we forget about ourselves and look to the next person then we find ourselves and what we need. We look to support others and find that we are supported and of course, if we all do it then we will find someone else is interested in us. It’s interesting I think. We can let ourselves go a bit. Not like your Malibu fuelled Auntie Jessie did at Sheila’s wedding. We never want to speak of that again. But what if we do not look after ourselves quite so much. Don’t worry about how we are perceived and wonder what help the other person needs. Maybe our life is not ours to keep and maybe there are positive reasons for that.