The nihilistic existentialism of Rust Cohle in True Detective’s first season reflects when he says, “I think human consciousness is a tragic misstep in evolution. We became too self-aware, nature created an aspect of nature separate from itself, we are creatures that should not exist by natural law. We are things that labor under the illusion of having a self; an accretion of sensory, experience and feeling, programmed with total assurance that we are each somebody, when in fact everybody is nobody.”
Certainly, Rust wouldn’t bother himself with something banal as networking. The sense of self he is referring to is more primordial than what we are concerned with here. Nonetheless, networking can be understood as mechanistic underpinning essential to both the survival of cellular structures and the survival of civilisation; multiple individual processes which interconnect to bring consciousness to a structure. These interconnections are handled by the archbishop of networking. No matter how much you hate it, there is a sliver of that archbishop—the networker—in each one of us. The networker develops depending on how much you indulge it. The development of that networker is sometimes perilous to one’s cherished identity, the sense of self. Lately, I have realised the networker is inching up my psyche.
Networking is considered a “mutually beneficial”, symbiotic relationship. The benefit is subjective; it may be a new technique, a new avenue of development, or sometimes just a port to the person’s network. Unlike the parsimonious, a wise networker allows access to his connections in earnest hoping that a denser network would have greater returns for them (and, in turn, everyone in the web). It seems a logical concept, yet it is not difficult to find people who aim to take their network to grave with them. So much like love, it grows if everyone shares freely.
I have a hypothesis on how people organise and share their networks (and a well-meaning guide too). Consider a toasted, closed sandwich with your favourite filling: two pieces of buttered, golden-brown, square bread with its crust intact, a rich filling, and a sauce to smooth it. If the person doesn’t find you abominable, initial conversation, out of politeness, allows access to the crust. The crust of the network exposes you to what is in store, a taste of blood for the jackal in you. Not all people here would take interest when you contact them, but, keep in mind, the ones who do probably have that networker organised in their networking crust too; remember, the essence is symbiosis. Some people here may be frankly irritating, but they are here for a purpose; refrain from criticism. Beware, take it all with a pinch of salt and smile.
Like all good sandwiches, this one is also eaten outside-in in an ever tightening spiral. Next comes the slightly toasted bread going to be a soggy if not eaten really quick. Once the networker establishes a trust screaming “mutual benefit”, you will find yourself between the sauce and the bread. An inkling of your inherent greed for the central axis will spook the networker; hence avoid. To mutually leech the benefits, It is important to be patient here. Give them a good bite too. This set of people has a similar potential to that of the networker. These are the people who will make a rainforest out of your network. In my opinion, this is where the sweet spot of networking is, not too close to the crust but not so far from the denouement too.
Finally, the sweetest part of the meal, centre of the sandwich. At one point in college, I used to eagerly wait for the last bite during communal meals, usually a late night maggi. Besides giving me a reputation, it caused messy fights. I have realised that the last bite was an illusion not much unlike what Rust said. Within the entire sandwich its centre has the highest perceived value, but we forget the dynamics which finally result in that last bite: the handling, the position of bites, the consistency of filling, the force of your fingers. The people in this segment are most valuable but the value you really derive is moot. Wouldn’t a few outer circles be of similar, albeit lesser, importance but more beneficial to you? With successful manipulation, I have found, the last few bites can be made as tastier if not more as that final bite.
Everyone should experience dupery once for the sheer insight it provides in human behaviour. Much like dupery, networking hinges on the intricacies of that behaviour. It cannot be a one-size-fits-all sandwich. You have to keep in mind if the taste bud tingles for tuna or tomato.
Tushar, finally, has a LinkedIn account. He is going to write bespoke invitation messages from now on and refrain from the lure of that last bite.