I hate networking, shakes me to the core at the very thought of it because of all the insincerity, bland chit chat, watching over the shoulder looking for the next person to talk to or the fact that so many conversations are more the other person waiting for their chance to talk again rather than any actual engagement or active listening. This rational fear comes from early years working in TV and Film and the incessant need to network and BS/KA everybody. If you’ve ever spent 5 mins in Soho House or The Groucho you will know what I mean, imagine the terror I had spending time at the Cannes Film Festival, you’ll never find a place as sycophantic as the Soho House yacht during the festival. After a number of years doing this “darling” stuff I developed networking tourettes, an involuntary response mechanism to luvviness that made me blurt out mildly amusing and often offensive retorts to actors, agents, producers et al, for instance when Harvey Weinstein’s “right hand man” introduced himself to me with that moniker, I asked how much he had to spend on lube per annum to keep himself busy. You can see why I quickly retreated from such a scene and why they were happy for me to do so.
So for someone that despises networking so much, why would I attend the “legal networking event of the year”? I did ask myself this question numerous times before RSVPing, and I think the reason is because it would be so different, how could it be insincere or shallow when you feel that you know so many of the attendees through prior social networking communication. I had been conversing with some of these people for a couple of years, though we had never met. This was going to be a reunion of sorts, not first time networking. The ability to jump into non surface level conversation was the appeal, to already know things about the people rather than spending chit chat getting a bio and rundown of their job. Social Networking had made Real Life Networking effective and efficient, like some six sigma process – hurray, how do we get more of this! All the fallacies of SN making people disconnected from real life were not in evidence last Wednesday night. Also made me reflect on all the courses that are out there on networking for lawyers, teaching people how to smile, have open body language etc...It’s not the people, it’s the events that are the problem – they don’t really foster connection or engagement (I exclude Netlaw Media from that criticism as I know this is something they put a lot of effort into to great success).
I don’t have photos and others have written better about the events of the night than I will attempt here, I will say that it was a pleasure to meet those I had conversed with for some time and those who were newer to me. Big thanks to @brianinkster and @lindacheunguk for organising and already looking forward to the next one.