Tea-time for Cinderella: Networking

The work table that I constructed from a door panel and two cubby-hole cabinets, situated neatly in one corner of the room, has been serving me well so far. I’ve found its large surface area aptly suited for the spreading out of books and notepads and magazines, anything and everything handy for thinking with a pen. There are bags of trash and other items still stacked against an adjacent wall, however, so negotiations for a possible use of that sector are currently at a stand-still.

I continue spending the early morning hours sitting here in the dark with hot coffee in hand, random thoughts floating around my head, but no new plans for the room materializing as of yet. Such a picture might prompt some to wonder if the Third Life was really just an excuse for creating a space to sip caffeinated beverages and contemplate the mysteries of the universe.

Cinderella: “No coffee for me, thank you; tea with a little milk and sugar, if you please.”

OK, maybe. But now I’ve turned my attention elsewhere for the moment, another old space of sorts: networking. Over at the OED they even dug down to the root of it and found the word as having been around for almost as long as America itself.

network, n.“net-like arrangement of threads, wires, etc.,” 1550s, from net (n.) + work (n.). Extended sense of “any complex, interlocking system” is from 1839 (originally in reference to transport by rivers, canals, and railways). Meaning “broadcasting system of multiple transmitters” is from 1914; sense of “interconnected group of people” is from 1947.

Amend the last sense with that form of modern connectivity frequently discussed around office water-coolers and neighborhood laundromats, to the delight of the desperately penniless and upwardly mobile alike, and I believe there are a few experts in the field of career-planning who could hum you a bar or two. But skipping right along to the very doorstep of the present millennium, we witness (i.e., witnessed) thousands of miles of coppery tendrils spreading over the skin of the planet, heralding the growth-spurts of that conglomeration of conglomerations, even the very space we now share with warm and fragrant cups in hand, you and me and Cindy, too: the Internet — or as some savvy ones keep reminding us, the World Wide Web (www-dot-something, for short).

But whenever I hear of “networks” and “webs”, all I can envision is myself walking between a couple of dew-clad bushes out in the yard and suddenly becoming enveloped in a sticky, clingy invisible mess that takes forever to remove from both clothing, skin and hair, all the while with hopes that its little crafty designer has not come along for the ride.

Cinderella: “Then you should really keep a good broom handy. Especially so, when opening closets and cupboards.”

Well then, with broom in hand, I’d like to give this networking thing a good sweeping and see if it can be converted to some other way resembling more of. . . gardening.

“Gardening?” you ask, with that puzzled look of yours.

Well, haven’t you heard of “growing your network”? In reality, no one really “grows” anything, not even a garden. Though you may plant it, weed it, water it, and de-bug it, only nature and prayer determine whether the thing grows or not. But isn’t that the real joy and beauty of the whole experience? You don’t need to pre-tend to “grow” anything, just tend to it as best as you can and watch it sprout and spread and put forth the kind of produce that doesn’t come with a price sticker that needs peeling. And if “networking is about meeting people you know who can vouch for your past performance and connect you with people you don’t know,” as Mr. Adler, corporate exec and hiring guru, succinctly puts it, then what I call gardening would be more about getting together with people you love who can connect you with the one person you don’t know as well as you think: yourself.

Cinderella: “Oh, and do please save a pumpkin from your garden for me. I have another ball to attend this evening.”