This is one of those posts that I was somewhat hesitant to write, because it may come off as being hostile, bitter, angry or whatever else people who disagree with the common social conventions are described as. The cult of the networker is the slow evolution of thought where the importance has shifted from being a “good worker” to being a good networker.
While a certain degree of self-promotion is often a requirement to advance. After all, if nobody knows who you are, what you do, what you aspire to and most importantly what you can do for them, then you are a potentially great product, that nobody knows about.
Think about it like this, many of the biggest fast food chains in the world do not serve the best food within their area. I’ve had my best hamburgers at small, often hidden stores in some alley, and the same goes for pizza, kebab and various other foods. Someone may have invented something that’s better than sliced bread, but if nobody knows about the invention, then it does not matter.
What I mean when I talk about the “cult of the networker” I speak about people who are great at networking, but little else. I’m talking about the accountant who has 500 connections on Linkedin and is a “thought leader” when you know that every day you’ll have to correct half of their invoices. I’m talking about the person who claims to be a competent business strategist yet has never heard of Michael Porter. In short, the people who are mediocre or worse at what they actually do, but are great at marketing themselves.
However, more importantly, I’m talking about the tendencies in the Western world of “form over function” of “Tact over fact” and “baffle them with bullshit”.
I’m sure the 2 or 3 people reading this may think “this is some guy who’s bitter about not being good at networking” and you would be half-way right, I’m not bitter, but I’m really bad at networking and self-promotion. I don’t begrudge people who are good at networking their success. What I do, is worry about the future of a society that competes with other societies, where the one that prefers form over function will be the inevitable loser.
What is the point in appearing great at what you do if you’re not? Shouldn’t everyone aspire to greatness over time?