Confusing Personal with Professional at Blogher '07, OR the Root Word of Networking is WORK.

Although I have a category for blogging about blogging (I call it "Streaking the Quad") I try to use it sparingly. It quickly gets a little like like the kid on the cereal box holding a cereal box with a kid on the cereal box. Know what I mean?

I said that last week's Blogher '07 wrap up post would be the last space given over to the conference on Notes to Self, and I meant it.

But then I discovered that some conference attendees are hurting over the perception they were being overlooked or left out based on a social hierarchy.

I had two reactions to this:

  1. sympathy
  2. bewilderment

The first shouldn't require much in the way of annotation. Feeling less than is never fun. To a greater or lesser degree, we've all been there. And I would never dispute the verity of someone's emotions. Your feelings are your feelings.

What puzzles me is how people can be taking the professional networking so personally. Yes, the social aspect was fun, often silly. But we were all there for a conference, weren't we? I understood this was a professional event (at least, that's what I'm telling my tax accountant!). I went with the expectation that there would be socializing, and new friends to make, but principally I was there because blogging is my venture ( I don't advertise on my site, but it is part of my portfolio as a writer). I expected that I would attend sessions to improve my blog, and that I would be networking strategically to promote my blog.

Eight hundred attendees, two mostly scheduled days, one little old me. Let's do the math. Did I make a calculated attempt to meet and spend time with bloggers with valuable influence, experience, and/or content and audiences similar to mine? You bet I did. Does that mean I used or sucked up to those people, snubbed or avoided others? It did not. Did I forget my manners for a minute? Well, once, at Real Simple, but it was after hours and they were rude to me first. :-)

Many of the commenters on the posts I read in this vein blame women en masse for the hurt feelings. As in, this kind of clique-ishness is just what happens when you get a bunch of women together. WTF??? What kind of skewed, self-hating attitude is that? Why does networking become something Machivellian and scheming when applied to a conference of women? If it were 800 professional men hustling themselves and their talents at a weekend conference, you think anyone would be crying in the bathroom? How does it make someone a sellout or a phony to attend a professional conference with a professional objective?

Okay, we aren't men. We do relate differently. And I think that's usually a good thing. I don't think women should have to act just like the boys to succeed in business, politics or the arts. But you have to understand the boundaries between personal and professional and learn to navigate them appropriately.

That's not sacrificing integrity, that's a mark of maturity.

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