It has now been a week since I started this blog, although I wrote my first post a few days before actually publishing it, when I was still toying with the idea of blogging.
So I decided to take a little bit of time out from writing about running and do what I think is referred to as a “meta-post”.
This is because I wanted to share my experience so far with the WordPress community, which I have to say has been overwhelmingly positive. I have been working hard to get my posts out there and have had some really good feedback already, including well-intentioned practical pointers for improving the site. (A special shout-out should go to Raj of XDrive here, who reminded me to remove my social icon widgets until I was actually using them. This made me go through and check what other parts of the template I hadn’t personalised as well.)
I have also tried to make it a rule to check out the websites of bloggers who have expressed an interest in my site. (I’m curious to see who all these other bloggers are, and what they’re about.) This means I have read things, seen stunning photographs (and even heard music) I never would have come across browsing Facebook or the BBC news website. These have often been things that are quite removed from my own experience, and, without being too corny, I feel that my world has expanded just a little bit because of them.
Some savvy marketing people might say I have been networking hard.
But I don’t see it that way.
The trouble is, I hate the word “networking”, because to me it has always had that connotation of looking over someone’s shoulder at a party instead of really listening to what they’re saying. (You know, that clichéd check to see if someone more influential has just entered the room. It’s a trope that’s used in a lot of films, and for good reason – it’s a genuine satire on something that really does go on.)
In short, the way that networking has been explained to me has always made it seem highly disingenuous.
My friend summed it up very well in a text he sent me when we were at the same graduate recruitment fayre:
The joy and wonder of meeting new people reduced to a single word: networking
So perhaps it’s time we turned the concept on its head. To pull out another piece of business terminology, let’s give “networking” a re-brand. Let’s call it “engagement”, or “human connection”, because it just sounds nicer to me, and it removes that unwelcome sub-text of “I’m only talking to you to see what you can do for me”.
To me, the best part of engagement is that the interaction itself has intrinsic value: it enriches the lives of both people involved just that little bit, regardless of whether it opens up an opportunity to promote your own project or not.