Last friday I attended for the first time the alumni networking day at my old university. I am no friend of networking. I went there, because I was invited by my old friend Jan Martel, who happened to sponsor the event through his company Martel Vines. We had some very interesting speeches and I have to change my opinion about the host, Stephanie Berger she is an ex miss Switzerland and actually very funny. The a speech from Peter Hogenkamp, apparently the swiss social web evangelist, which was ok, but nothing new. More impressive was the presentation of Benno Kehl, a well known ex monk, who left the church for the love to a women. A very impressive person, who works with junkies and at the same time looks extremely happy. It took him six years to leave the church. The story about his decision to go with the love to a woman, is something I will remember.
Dieter Meyer from Yellow was there, too, but by far the most impressive speech came from Ruth Metzler-Arnold.
Nobody of my readers will know her. She was a member of the Federal Council – the Swiss government (if you want to know, how Switzerland works, look here, if not, let me tell you, it is different from everything you know). Since I don’t care a lot about politics, I did not expect a lot from her. Boy, was I surprised. She talked about networking and how she feels that this new buzzword and trend is somewhat not the real world. She believes, that part of her success is, that nobody knows her network and that it is not the quantity of connections that count, but the quality.
You don’t have just normal parties anymore after such an event, no more drinking beer with old friends, no, it’s networking. Everybody thinks, they are there just to meet the next customer. It’s like having a constant sales pitch. Name dropping is becoming a way of selling yourself.
Having friends is giving and taking. It’s not selling you or your company to everybody you meet. If parties are becoming huge sales events, we have lost our souls. In the end, one must come to the conclusion, that accumulating friends on Facebook, isn’t worth a lot. Sure, once in a while you will find a customer or even a friend through Xing or whatever else there is, but a real friendship develops only face to face.
Will I go again? Not at the normal price. It was nice to see it for once, but I don’t think, it will help a lot. Regarding meeting friends, just two other guys from my year where there and I did not get any business cards. Looks like I am not important enough or the networking part is a huge failure. Everybody is just there to meet old friends and have a good time … looks like it was just an ordinary party with a new name.