Last Wednesday evening, I did something that I do not do very often. That thing I did was networking. I do not mean networking in the cabling and internet kind of way but rather the networking of a more personal nature where one talks to people, pretends (if necessary) to have an interest in what that person does and then hands them a business card in hopes that the person will contact them for one reason or another.
The reason I do not do this “networking” thing very often is mainly because I am not really good at it. I say what I feel without regards to social politics when I am asked to. Some people enjoy this, while others frown upon it greatly and secretly wish to never speak with that person again. This does not mean that I am entirely unskilled socially, quite the contrary, I am usually very reserved thinking very carefully about what I want to say in response to what is being said. Constantly adjust for what could be considered by some to be socially unacceptable behavior. No, what I am referring to is when asked for my opinion, I give it, usually in a straight forward manner. If I do not agree with someone, I tell them and give an explanation.
The thing is, most geeks like me are not exactly skilled socially. We much prefer the quit room with a computer and maybe a soft drink. There we can do anything. We are smart, witty, and even somewhat romantic in some ways. There we are in our element. However, put us in a room full of people and we become tight lipped, non-talkative individuals. This happens even if we are surrounded by our own kind. What is interesting is we could talk to these people over instant messaging, email, even online forums, but we can not seem to socialize if put in the same room with each other. We fail at it miserably, most of us anyway.
What a social conundrum. We have to network with people, it is part of the job. But we can not seem to learn to do it well. We constantly say the wrong thing, say the right thing in the wrong way, or more often than not, say nothing at all. Is it not odd that geeks are like this? It has become pretty common knowledge (in fact there are shows based on this), but there is something in the fact that we could talk to those same people through other mediums without fail all day long, while when it comes to the “face to face” we go all but completely mute.
I wonder what it would take to get my kind to break out of the shell especially when in the company of others like ourselves. Like I said, last week was interesting not only from my personal perspective of actually doing the talking and such, but also in watching others like me suffer from the same “illness” as it were. Could it be that events like the one I attended are put together to help geeks like us become more social? Is this a way for geeks to get over their social fears? I guess that time will answer these questions.