Sunday, March 13, 2011

Daylight Volley Time

I remembered to spring forward on the upstairs clock, and I saw a lot of springing forward at the 7th grade state volleyball tournament yesterday, so I am giving you the heads up: there may be sports analogies. My brother-in-law, a dancer & choreographer, finds sports analogies annoying when applied to art, and I have met people who hate them in a classroom. Fortunately, ignorant as I am about most sports, I don't use many. But I was pondering networking in terms of school volleyball, and it helped me illustrate a point in my own nitpicky little head. Alas, that humorous adjective is too close for comfort, as nits are exactly what you'd want to pick off your head, but here goes.

I've been pondering a good discussion of networking in the blog of Sandy Longhorn--its virtues, its attendant doubts--in the context of sending your writing to magazines where you know the editor, or being asked to send work, and how this parallels job networking, applying for a job where you know someone. I understand that, these days, most jobs really are had by networking, not by answering newspaper ads or filling out the online application form, but I continue to be troubled by a world that works primarily because of "who you know." That aspect still seems smarmy somehow.

Lest I be misunderstood (see yesterday), I am all for the generosity of recommending people to each other (in workplace or literature) because they do good work and are not too flaky to handle the job requirements, editorial deadline, etc. I'm fine with the boss's son being hired in a position of responsibility, if he can handle it, and eventually taking over the company! That's part of why his dad founded the business, right?

The only part I don't like is somebody getting the job because she knows someone if she's not really the best person for the job. Somebody else was; she applied, too, but the friend of a friend got it. This has not happened to me, but it happens around me, and it disturbs the nits, who raise a ruckus. (I should have warned you of the lice analogy, too.)  Anyhoo...

Let's say a girl has played volleyball since grade school, learned her position well, been a real team player, played freshman and junior varsity in high school, practiced hard, cheered from the bench when she was not a starter junior year, because it was a senior's turn to start, and comes to tryouts her own senior year, and someone new has moved into the district who is trying out for the same position.  Let's say, middle hitter. Now the girl knows she will have to compete for the position, and that's fine.  But let's say the new girl is the daughter of a friend of the coach, and it turns out the coach told her friend what neighborhood to move into to be sure to come to this high school, and now the coach puts the new girl in as a starter even though she is not as good as the first girl! This has the specificity of gossip, but I assure you I am making it up. (I write short stories, too.) This is the kind of networking I don't like.

Caring for the area volleyball players is on my mind because of all the great playing, good team spirit, and heartfelt commitment I saw yesterday. Great spirit on the floor, great spirit on the bench, and good matches. Good referees, too, which helps the spirit in the gym! May the best teams win Tuesday night at the championship, and I hope I get to see it.  My husband and daughter will be playing in their adult league, where my daughter is now a substitute for someone who can't come for a couple weeks, and that's not really a spectator situation, so I might go to the 7th grade finals on my own. Cheering on strangers.

P.S. I do not have lice.


Kathleen said...

I should have called this Nitpicking on Networking.

Sandy Longhorn said...

Kathleen, you win for photo most likely to gross me out. Ugh. Still, I get the analogies! Thanks for the thoughts and continuing the discussion. The situation you've described is exactly the worst kind of networking.

Kathleen said...

And it really is Random Coinciday, as, in between posting this and posting your comment, Sandy, I "networked" by referring two writers to people who might help them. I imagine it will all work out for the best.

Kim said...

One of my friends calls it "wetnerking" as sort of a reference to the smarmy aspect of it. I suppose we could also coin "pitnicking" though that sounds more like a Saturday afternoon activity in the park.

Kathleen said...

Excellent way to look at it, Kim. Tell your friend I wish I'd thought of "wetnerking." Hey, you and I should go wetnerking and pitnicking at Parklands as soon as it gets warmer!!

Hannah Stephenson said...

The forced element of capital-N "Networking" is what we all do not like. The connections and energy and new ideas...all excellent results.

I was reading this over the weekend:

I kept thinking about number 39 on this design manifesto:
"39. Coffee breaks, cab rides, green rooms.
Real growth often happens outside of where we intend it to, in the interstitial spaces – what Dr. Seuss calls "the waiting place." Hans Ulrich Obrist once organized a science and art conference with all of the infrastructure of a conference – the parties, chats, lunches, airport arrivals – but with no actual conference. Apparently it was hugely successful and spawned many ongoing collaborations."

Maybe we need to host an Un-Networking event like this...?

Kathleen said...

Oh, Hannah, an Un-Networking event sounds wonderful. Road trip!

Kathleen said...

I read the manifesto! So much to love there, Hannah. Comforted to find stuff I do, and excited to find new stuff to try, different ways of thinking about it, etc. Plus, I will share this with my son in design!

Loved "Capture accidents" and "Don't be cool." I've always felt dorky because I am not cool, but here it is a virtue. (Although I note he does not say, "Be dorky.")