Friday, March 28, 2014
This short post caught my eye for two reasons.
Second, since my move to a business school last fall, I have heard the term “networking” with increasing frequency. Sure, “networking” is discussed in law schools and there are some networking events, but in business schools the term “networking” is ubiquitous and the events focused on “networking” are constant.
"Networking" has some negative connotations, but I think Blumenthal’s attack is misplaced. Instead of attacking “networking,” Blumenthal would have done better to attack “selfishness.”
There is nothing wrong, and much good, in the dictionary definition of “networking”:
the exchange of information or services among individuals, groups, or institutions; specifically: the cultivation of productive relationships for employment or business.
Networking can be a wonderful thing, for everyone involved, if you can keep the selfishness at a minimum. Unfortunately, many people network in a selfish manner.
Blumenthal also writes about breaking down the walls between our work and personal lives, but sometimes those walls are healthy. He writes about the joys of involving friends in business, but sometimes involving friends in business is unwise.
Those of us in the corporate law world have seen and read about countless businesses that turned friend against friend, mentor against mentee, and family member against family member.
I am thankful that my professional and personal contacts overlap significantly. Just yesterday, I had two long phone conversations with people I consider both professional contacts and valued personal friends. That said, I am also thankful that I have friends who have nothing to do with work and some professional contacts who never venture outside of my work circles.
In short, while I understand Blumenthal’s negative reaction to “networking,” I think "selfishness" is the real problem. Further, I understand the great happiness he may be experiencing by involving friends in his business, but I also hope he recognizes that business may put great strain on those personal relationships.