The Anti-Networking Process of the Five B’s

Networking or Anti-Networking, which one should you do? It all depends upon the results you want.  Burning Bridges Before Being Built is also known as the “Anti-networking process of the 5B’s”and it seems to be affecting more and more people today than ever before.  Ok, I don’t have any scientific study that would substantiate my last statement, but it seems like that recently with some individuals. 

Anti-networking is exactly as it sounds. It’s what people do whenever they want to breakdown or destroy their network. The biggest irony is that most, if not all, people who do anti-networking are not aware that they are doing it. Sometimes they believe they are actually networking rather than anti-networking. Go figure!

When meeting someone new at a function or networking event, my main goal is to sincerely get to know them. I make it a point to never make any assumptions about a person until I’ve had a chance to speak with them. Note that I say speak “with” them instead of speak “to” them. There is a difference. 😎

“Every man is my superior in that I may learn from him.”
Thomas Carlyle

What are the chances that someone I’ve just met is someone that I have a superior intellect over? Or is someone that has a less experience than me in a particular field? Or is simply someone I don’t care to associate with?  I can easily say that unless I speak with them, there is no way for me to truly answer that question. 

I’m Graduating with my MBA this Week!

I was fortunate enough to have been invited to a party a few weeks ago at a friends place in mid Connecticut. It was a really nice time. Met many new people and had a lot of nice thoughtful conversations. There was one person who told me they were graduating the coming weekend and that they were finishing up their MBA. It turns out that she was graduating from my Alma Mata! I said that that was wonderful and I proceeded to congratulate her on her accomplishment. I also mentioned that I graduated from the same school. She said thanks and proceeded to tell me how happy she was with having completed her degree. The next 20 minutes was basically listening to her telling me how proud she was that she had her MBA and what she was going to do now that she had it. She told me how she was going to be connecting with different business people to see where she can land a new job. I listened attentively, nodding my head every now and again to let her know that I was still listening and paying attention. What was funny to me was that I never said more than probably five words to her in those twenty minutes. She really didn’t give me much of a chance to and she appeared to not care about anything I had to say. She was so excited about graduating and getting her degree that she kept talking and talking and talking. No problem there because I was sincerely interested in what she was saying.

After she was done talking about her plans and all, she proceeded to say “it was nice to meet you. Excuse me” and walk away. Hmm…that was odd. The next thing I see is her starting a conversation with someone else. “OK”, I thought to myself. “Did I say something wrong?” How could I have, I really didn’t have much of a chance to say anything at all. No matter, I mentally shrugged my shoulders and proceeded to enjoy the party. This person was happy to be graduating with her MBA and she was looking forward to connecting with people to see where she could land a new job.  “Good for her!” I thought, and I wished her luck.

Be Careful What You Wish For

There was an event a couple of weeks after the party that was being put on by a local young professionals and entrepreneur organization that I belong to. The event was a networking slash promotion event promoting the opening of a new burger take out restaurant at a local food court. It was well attended and I ran into many people that I knew already. It just so happened that I also ran into the same girl from the party I attended a couple of weeks earlier. This time however, she didn’t say hello to me and almost pretended to not know me. No problem I said and I proceeded to say hello to her by name. She looked at me and proceeded to act as though she didn’t know me. OK…no problem. She apparently didn’t want to acknowledge that we had spoken before. “I wonder why?” I thought to myself. No matter, it’s always my choice whether I choose to enjoy an event or not. You may think that she was being rude (and of course she was) but it takes a lot more than that to make me not enjoy a public event. Life is simply too short. You can’t always control what happens to you but you can always control how you react to what happens.

One thing that will stay in my mind though is how she acted with me at this event. She’s just someone I met once at a party a couple of weeks earlier but she just made a negative impression on me and that will stay in my memory. For whatever reason, she burned a bridge before it was even built. At the party from a couple of weeks earlier, she said she was looking forward to networking with people to see where she could land a new job. “How funny is that”, I thought to myself. This very week a colleague of mine was telling me that they had a couple of management positions available and that he was looking for someone with fresh ideas. Maybe someone who just got their MBA would be a good fit. What a pity…I thought I may have known someone, and I may have been able to make a connection for that someone who was looking as they had told me they were, but that person decided that I wasn’t worth her time to continue the connection with. A classic anti-networking scenario. Why burn bridges before they’re built? You never really know how someone you just met may be able to help you out with something important either directly or indirectly. You never really know how someone you just met may just be a person who will resort to blocking you from success in something (all because of the way you made them feel). The one person you inadvertantly alienate may be the one person you need to meet. Worst yet, why create an enemy of someone you don’t even know. If there was ever a recipe for foolishness, this would most definitely be among the ingredients.

What are your thoughts on the above story? What are your thoughts on networking? Inquiring minds want to know…Cheers!


2 Intelligent Opinions, Leave Yours on The Anti-Networking Process of the Five B’s

  1. Charles on Wed, 8th Jun 2011 3:25 pm
  2. I completely agree! I read Keith Ferrazzi’s Never Eat Alone when I was 19 (25 now), and always try to be conscious of how I approach people I know and do not know. In the current economic situation and job market I let things slide because I understand people are desperate for a job. However, I don’t think that was proper etiquette of her not to acknowledge your prior meeting or much less knowing you. In my opinion I notice it happens mostly with young professionals (yes I realize I am in that category) that think they are hot shots and won’t even bother following up if you don’t have something that they deem value you to them.

    Thank for the post!

    PS I came across this link on my FB feed via Keith Ferrazzi

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  3. Gil Pizano on Thu, 9th Jun 2011 7:12 am
  4. Charles, very good points you make! It shows a level of compassion to let things slide at times. Especially in today’s economic situation and job market. It’s true when you mentioned that it seems to happen “mostly with young professionals that think they are hot shots and won’t even bother following up if you don’t have something that they deem value you to them.” That’s kind of why I called it the 5B Process of Anti-Networking. Even if someone doesn’t (or ever) have something that they can help you with, that doesn’t mean they either never will or can’t connect you with someone else should one need them to. Regardless of even that fact, politeness and kindness go a long way in making the world a much more enjoyable place for both the person on the sending end of such an encounter as well as the person on the receiving end. What value is there really in burning bridges before they are built? Especially when some ways of burning a bridge can also highlight the character of the person doing the burning!


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