Question 176 of 365: When is networking just drinking with friends?

Long Three Days "at" ISTE NECC 2009
Image by willfree via Flickr

The largest technology and education conference has come to Denver. Is the one time of the year when people from all over the world get together in a single space and talk about the issues that are most important to them, whether those are of equity and access, 1:1 computing, open source software, social media, online learning, or curriculum standards. All of those conversations are going to happen this week, and it isn’t the first time they have happened, either. In fact, many of the people who are here this year were at this conference last year, and perhaps the year before. And even if they weren’t, it is highly likely that these people have met online or at another conference.

So, networking is hopeless for these people. They know each other. They have had these conversations before. The contexts are different. The setting is different too. Perhaps, even something new is created. But, the unbridled networking that is the signature of seeing new people and figuring out how they find significance in your life is not something that happens when the same people have the same conversations about the same important issues.

Instead, we just have friends sitting down for a drink with one another. And maybe that is the best thing that we can be doing right now. Maybe it has always been about finding the people that we can sit down with and share one true moment, without introductions. We need to know people before we really can see their potential as collaborators. We need to see them as consistent parts of our creative lives before we let them in to the rest of who we are and what we have to offer.

So, let’s sit down and have a drink. Let’s continue the conversations we have started. And for those new people who we have never met before, let’s start the next conversations so that in a few months or years we will be able to see those individuals as collaborators, and more than that, as friends.

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