The Humanity of Networking

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By Mark A. Leon

In the spring of 2015, I was asked to represent my company as a speaker in San Francisco for Hirepalooza.  It was an honor to be asked to represent my company’s brand and image, but who would say no to speaking at a conference call Hirepalooza?

The few days I spent there speaking, listening and most importantly engaging, reminded me of the essence of recruitment.  From the resumes stored in file cabinets to Chrome Extensions allowing you to track down any human being, one element has remained over the years, the human relationship.

I went out there thinking everyone wanted to work for a start-up, work 100 hours a week for three to five years and then drive off into the sunset with their Tesla and big bag of money.  It turns out my stereotype was shattered.  What I did find were many intelligent young students and professionals that are struggling with the same concerns we all have about careers and the future.

During the conclusion of day one, I was sitting with two academic students during the post seminar networking event and I asked them both, “What Makes You Great”.  They both laughed and shrugged their heads.  Neither had an answer.  I continued saying that we are all filled with greatness.  It is a pool of passion, courage, risk and determination.  It is the combination of those energy sources that takes your from mediocrity to greatness.  Once you find your own personal inner greatness, you can’t ever not succeed in life.

I continued for several more conversations with these students even after I returned to the East Coast providing some level of counseling and advice.

This past Friday, I spoke with David, a UC Berkeley junior I also engaged with during this event.   This most recent conversation was a result of an email he sent me earlier expressing how discouraged he was with networking and the lack of connection.  Before I even said hello, I told David he was far too young to be this cynical and that life will get more and more challenging with the shift toward digital connections and away from human relationships.

This led into an hour and twenty minute candid discussion of which the entire time I was reminded of what an important connection I had made.

David is at least twenty years my junior, but I can learn as much from him about life than anyone else in my inner circle.  He is wise beyond his years and sees the world from a new digital perspective.  He was raised on the mobile phone, apps, computers and gaming.  I think Wiffle Ball, tag and running bases are foreign terms to him.

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He sees the present from an immediacy perspective.  I see it from a watch the sunset and lay under the stars ideology.  He sees responsiveness as immediate based on sound bite approaches.  I see calculated responses based on research and understanding.

Still, we talked and talked and talked.  At the end of the conversation, he had to go pack for a trip to Oregon where he and some friends were going to be in the great outdoors without wifi for a few days.  It was a fitting reminder of what a life can be when you connect to all the elements.

I live in a world with 8000 LinkedIN connections, 2800 Facebook Friends, 12,000 Twitter Followers, 16,900 Instagram Followers, 2700 Pinterest Followers and 5 close friends.  I’m sure that sounds familiar to many.

I still believe in a common truth that human connection will always be the key to personal happiness.  I believed that when I chased my brother around the block on my bike when I was 10 years old and I believe that today.

David is that living breathing evidence of a connection I made in 2015 that remains strong today.   He sought me out for advice on careers and I learned a little about life.

At the end of the day, a tiny piece of electronics will make our lives easier, but human emotion will make it fulfilled.

 

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