Like many people, I’ve got a Linked In account which tends to lie fallow. I use it when I need to print out a resume for someone 1, but other than that it remains untouched. Like many people with these accounts, however, I also get emails notifying me of someone who wants to connect with me as part of my professional network. Some of these come from people I know who want to acknowledge our real world connection. Others come from people with whom I seem to have no connection. When these messages come in I think, “Why do to they want to connect with me? I’m a nobody.” These thoughts also peak into other social networks as well, though to a lesser extent. People send me friend requests on Facebook, or follow me on Twitter 2, and there are times when I’m bewildered. It’s not a negative bewilderment, I’m often honored to be considered worth the follow, but I wonder why people who don’t know me would make that effort.
The truth is, I’m terrible at networking.
My meat space network is tiny for a person who holds a public position like mine. Over my years in Palmyra it has grown to be semi-respectable, but its not something I’ve gone out of my way to build up. I find it easy to make acquaintances, but am wary of inviting people into my network of relationships. I’m willing to smile and retreat, and will do this over and over and over, because I figure an actual relationship will form over time if people are willing and don’t feel comfortable pressing it 3. I don’t enjoy it when other people force themselves into my space, so I try not to do this to others.
In my public life this means I’ll never move into a place and have an immediate impact, as I’ve not had time to develop relationships into which I feel comfortable investing. It also means I’m wary of putting myself into new positions because I am concerned people will treat such moves to imply a deeper relationship than I feel exists 4. When I do move into a new space I’m fine allowing relationships to grow over time. It even takes a while for me to remember people’s names 5, as that signifies to me a shift from acquaintance to an actual relationship — and for that to happen I need to come to know someone, which isn’t easy for me.
Because of my slower nature, my network will always remain small. But I hope what I have will always be in the process of becomming deep. It’s how I’m wired and, while there are times I am envious of more outgoing sorts, I’ve come to see it as gift.
- As I did when I joined the board at Riverview Estates. I don’t shop my resume, just in case anyone from Central is reading this and wondering. ↩
- I’d like to explore Instagram more, but it keeps slipping my mind. ↩
- It’s a wonder I’m married, really. ↩
- Wanting more than I’m able to give as a result. ↩
- A skill at which my wife excels. ↩