I think my whole life I have been a somewhat natural networker. I think it comes from my dad, I remember going to church with him as a little boy, he knew everyone, and would take the time to say hello to almost each and everyone after mass. I remember getting annoyed, (1) because I didn’t really enjoy going to church, and (2) I am an impatient person and wanted to get out of there as soon as possible….When there was the “Take your child to the office” day, my dad would show me what it was like to go to his job. I remember the commute in traffic in the car, listening to country 92.5 on the radio, little bit of road rage and “in the trenches” driving instructions (laughing out loud!), finding a parking spot in the lot. My dad, retired now in Florida, had a lifetime career working for the Connecticut department of transportation, doing road inspection and site inspections for various government contracted projects, checking road plans and blueprints. I remember everyone in the office knowing his name, stopping by to say hello at various desks, various floors, various buildings. I know he was also “showing me off”, but I could only imagine him doing this even when I wasn’t around. My childhood was always like this, waiting for my dad to finish talking to people and greeting people whenever we were at an event, and I remember being annoyed, pushing him to finish talking so we could go….
Maybe this rubbed off on me? In elementary school I was able to float into and out of different groups of friends, which was primarily determined by which lunch table you sat at in the cafeteria. It kinda was a cruel world I remember….only maybe 6 to 8 seats per table, and the dominant kids would sometimes reject those not cool enough to sit at their group table. I did have my regular lunch table of friends who I would say you could classify either as the nerd or “average white boy middle class” type (if that makes any sense) which included Scott Katin, Bob Aniello (rest in peace my friend), Andrew Moran, Brian McKeon, Steve hooker, William Castagno, I was accepted to sit at the table with the Puerto rican people like Alcides and Eddiebierto, or the African American table, the sports players table. I remember my friends in the “white boy” middle class, maybe nerd table upset with me for not always sitting at their table, but I would get invitations from the Puerto Ricans to hang out with them and joke around, or play some games. Sometimes I would eat my lunch at one table, and I would transfer to another table for the rest of the lunch period.
Then there was the field trips, and you had to “buddy up” with one other person in your class, ONLY 1! Man, this was stressful, who would pick who? There is one specific story I remember, I think I was in 2nd grade and my mom volunteers to be a chaperone on the full day field trip. Whats funny is I can’t even remember where we went, but I remember this story….I was so stressed on who to be my buddy, there was the “cool kid” Jason that everyone wanted to be buddies with, and he asked me if I would be his buddy. But there was a funny Spanish kid, Edwardo (I think) that always made me crack up and I wanted to be his buddy. My mom watched this happen and pulled me aside later asking why I didn’t buddy-up with the cool kid that everyone else wanted to be buddies with????!! She was kinda angry I picked the stranger, quieter outcast Spanish kid, like this affected my social status. Amazing I still remember this, and I have no idea where we went for the field trip or anything else, just this stressful 5 minute ordeal at 8am on a Wednesday morning or something before we got on the school bus.
And high school was the same, I shifted tables, but mostly I sat with the Italian American kids, as the Catholic high school had a few of us there which turned out to be an exact amount to fit at a lunch table there. Sure, there would be other races there, but it kinda would be classified at the Italian American table – Vinnie Mafella, David D’Agastino, Manny Rollo, Michael Michelini, mixed with some funny polish kids (as this was a polish catholic high school). The middle class, somewhat average kids, some played sports but most didn’t, funny group of easy going guys.
Wow, I almost sound like I am talking about a prison movie, with the gang members forming, but this is how I would say the American educational system comes together in high school and grade school – you form groups of friends based around various themes – the pretty / popular girls and boys, the jocks, the various ethnic groups, the average kids, the nerds. Think that covers a lot of those groups. So I wanted to diversify, I didn’t like the idea of rejecting someone because they didn’t fit in with the rest of my crowd. I remember getting softly joked about with my “core” group of friends, saying why am I so nice to everyone, and spend time with people “that are weird” or aren’t cool. But I was elected class president all 4 years of high school. Even as a freshman when I didn’t know anyone, coming in to the school alone in a town 10 miles away (my parents didn’t want me to go to public school), I ran for freshman class president against a popular junior class sports star’s younger sister. When it came down to counting votes, I tied her!
In university it was the same thing, I went to Stevens Tech in New Jersey, only having one of my high school friend’s older brother as a contact there, I was elected in my freshman and sophomore year into the student government association. I didn’t run the last 2 years, my fraternity influenced me and made it apparent that I was in too many clubs and had to cut back and focus.
Maybe I should make a career change to politician.
Because is all this networking helping me in business now? I think overall it is, but man, its getting exhausting. Maybe its good for my research and development in Social Media marketing business services, maybe getting more customers for internet marketing. But I am spinning some complex network of friends all over the world….overextending myself (Yes again) this time not in business (well still in business too) but also in my personal network. And as a side effect, I am losing some friends in that network because I cannot physically be everywhere at the same time. I cannot attend all the weddings, vacations, baby christenings, or whatever, and therefore letting people down.
Maybe I should focus on quality over quantity, right?
Or maybe I should become one of those hollow politicians, smiling and shaking everyone’s hand to get votes, hah!