‘You know, we always called each other good fellas.  Like you said to, uh, somebody, You’re gonna like this guy.  He’s alright.  He’s a good fella. He’s one of us.  You understand?’

I know more than once I’ve publicly stated my somewhat ‘necessary evil’ attitude toward networking.  Having said that, I just spent the night catching up/hanging out with three different friends from three completely separate chapters of my life, who in all likelihood would have never crossed paths with each other except for me being the common thread.  And tonight wasn’t the first time in recent memory some of my ‘worlds collided’ to everyone’s benefit.  As I say this ‘out loud’, I see now my aversion to the word ‘networking’: when I hear it, the image in my mind is ‘I have no reason to talk to you, hell I don’t really like you that much, but I do recognize I can use you as an avenue to get something.’  That definitely turns me off.  I try not to do that to people.

On the other hand, I’m very much by nature a ‘point guard’.  Yes, when someone needs to shoot the ‘game winner’, I want the ball.  But for the majority of the game, I want everybody on the team involved and feeling like they’re an important part of the game.  The first ‘A’ I ever got in school was writing a one page book report on my hero Magic Johnson after all (and yes it’s still sitting in a laminated book in my mama’s house.)  I’m all about the ‘assists’.  Look at the whole floor and see who has the wide open shot.  It may be me, but if you’re open, why not pass the ball?  And I don’t even hoop anymore, but I think that metaphor is simple enough for everyone to understand.  I want to win the game and win championships; I’ll worry about my own stat line when I’m done playing.

Now obviously, I’m selfish enough to be protective of my own reputation when I’m making a ‘double introduction’.  If you’re wide open for a jump shot because everyone knows you can’t make a jump shot, then yeah, going into Kobe mode might be the best play.  But normally, when the question is ‘Do I know a guy (or girl)?’  The first answer is almost always yes, and the more important question, ‘Are they going to do a good job and be professional about it?’ and that answer is always yes, then hell, I love that.  Helping friends out where more than one person I like can benefit?  That’s one of the best parts of being ‘Malik Aziz.’

So it’s not ‘networking’ I hate.  It’s overt, barely disguised political moves.

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