Lies, Damned Lies, and “Networking”

I’ve spent some time mulling and agonizing since the writing conference in September. I had some great pitch sessions. Apparently I’ve found my inner door-to-door salesman, so hey, that could be handy.

So I’m sitting there in an appointment with a young hotshot whose outlook and ideas I’ve decided I admire greatly. And I get the rapid-fire, “do you have a blog? A website? Facebook?”

I tell her I know the difference between deep networking and wide networking, which is marketing jargon for getting to know people versus getting widespread impersonal attention from people. I’m a deep networker, I say. And she gets it.

People who can give the benefits of both are fairly rare: people like the Bloggess, which is a kind of online presence I am too nerdy to be. I hide my inner Beyonce the Rooster-type spontaneous impulses because, excuse me, that’s private. [In my Sheldon Cooper voice.]

The Set of All Real Numbers

“Audience” isn’t numbers.

Awhile back, I ran across a social media mentor who seemed like he knew his stuff, but it turned out on a closer look that his startup advice was to buy 2,000 followers to create a first impression of social authority.

A number doesn’t mean the writer has sales potential. It could, or it could mean the writer’s a dishonest contractor.

Then there’s you. I like you, gang. I’ve never gotten over it that you show up and read my stuff here. These are the best conversations. And your presence in my life makes me feel secure enough to say, it’s not worth agonizing over. None of it, ever.

Before you roll your eyes and cue the schmaltzy violins, bear with me for a moment.

Play Me the Real Tune

I sat in an appointment with a brand management specialist and I had no problem telling her exactly what I do well, what I talk about that matters, and who wants to hear it.

That fifteen minutes of fun, so fast, so surprisingly good — you gave me that gift. It came out of hanging out here together for the last four years, getting the chance to read and think about your comments. Because you let me know you.

Numbers aren’t people, and people aren’t numbers.

Pitching to serious project buyers is like banging my head against a brick wall, but with the ability to actually break a hole through if I hit it in the right place. It’s like picking up a mountain and moving it. I have very strong reactions to that.

I’m smiling right now because you’re going to like me, skeptic, and I already like you.

Oh my word, you are totally not here to be serious. I want to walk out on you.

Oh, that question? I’m suddenly too exhausted to hit the wall with my head one more time.

You challenged me in all the right places, and that tells me I would love to be on team with you.

(Yes, I very nearly did walk out on one, which was neither of the two awesome ones mentioned herein, but I still liked her very much as a person. Just not as a prospective employee, which was the case in that interview. And yes, I was nice, and still got invited to send my materials to her.)

Sad Violins Now

If I were doing this stuff strictly for myself, I would quit. In fact, I attended this year looking for reasons to quit, and I didn’t get them.

I’m on the low side right now. We laid my grandmother’s ashes to rest not long after I got back home. I’m still not sleeping well. Still waking up crying before I’m really awake, still breaking down late at night when my dependents are off in their beds, and in random moments when no one’s looking.

I’m still not coping with the idea that her amazing hidden history — her personality, her sense of adventure and wonder, the epic journey of her life as a postwar immigrant — can just disappear from this earth. She shouldn’t vanish. My whole heart cries out against it.

You know, we can write and memorialize, but it’s not the same thing as looking a person in the eye and knowing they were there and it was real. We’re experience-based creatures, and particularly in the current climate, our contemporary ethos exalts our own experience above all else.

To the point where the statistical summary of experience takes a huge role in our view of the world.

I can’t stand that.

The Set of All Real People

Does anyone remember Mark Twain anymore? “Lies, damned lies, and statistics.”

So after thinking about what business wants of me for awhile, my personal question for myself is this: Who cares about hypotheticals? What about right now? Is it enough, just being with those who are already here?

Yes. Abundantly, yes. Right now, my heart’s torn up, I don’t know which way I’m going, and I need your friendship more than ever. What I have today is so much more important than what I might have someday.

I’m here because of her.

I’m still here because of you.

Forget numbers. That’s what counts.


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  1. Yep, I love you too, and it hurts to know you’re hurting. But you’re right. A few close “fans” who can spread the word for you beats gobs of numbers who don’t have a clue and don’t particularly care to. 777 Peppermint Place doesn’t reach very many people, but most of my followers are also friends who are more than willing to help me when I need it.

    1. Thanks, Linda. It’s a necessary hurt, I guess — I’d be messed up if I didn’t feel it.

      Two things lately have struck me about this — it’s Hugh Howey’s advice, and hey, everyone listens to Hugh; and it’s the advice of Dan Blank at WeGrowMedia. Love the people you already have instead of coveting after what you don’t.

      Seems like that fits with Christian principle. :)

  2. Buy followers??? Ugh! Turns out to be not a mentor after all !
    Keep writing words from your heart, and care not for false mentors, critics, experts or audience.
    (Yes, easier said than done…)

    1. Well, he understood the nature of social conversation very well, but buying FB followers in particular can get a person banned from that site — not sure about Twitter, but it’s really bad advice to fake a following in any case.

      OTOH, the young hotshot was a true shot in the arm. She did challenge me on all the right questions — not numbers, but what am I doing to reach out to people. Which I needed right now, to remind me why I find it so worthwhile.

      Easier said than done, but here you are and here I am, and that counts for me. Thanks.

  3. I’m here. Not often HERE, at your blog, because of time and internet constraints. But I’m here…and you’ve been there for me. Thanks.

  4. “Numbers aren’t people, and people aren’t numbers.
    “Is it enough, just being with those who are already here?”

    This reminds me of a thought from the keynote on Sunday, that followers aren’t fish but a flock. That struck me in the moment, but I haven’t done anything with it. Thanks for giving it legs here.

  5. A simple truth, simply stated – and too often ignored in the modern marketplace culture. My beloved grandfather died more than forty years ago, but his voice still informs my writing, his experiences guide my own… Because he was present, and real, and touched my deepest core, he remains so to this day. I wish the same for you and your grandmother.

    1. Thank you so much for sharing this. I think it’ll be this way for me too. As I reflect on her life, I realize how much of her I have in me and how much she’s given to me.

  6. I’m sorry that you’re hurting. Tough stretch of road to walk, that is. I know you know you’ll get past it, but it doesn’t make it any less painful. I’ll pray for you this morning.

    Oh and BTW… I’m glad you’re here.

    1. Thanks… much needed and appreciated.

      I’m glad you’re here too. I appreciated what you said in your Sunday post — “the discussion of a problem should never be at the expense of its remedy.” That, and “directions to the doctor aren’t the same as the doctor.”

      Good words for a troubled heart.

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