Earlier today, I attended an event which specifically mentioned "networking" in its agenda. The implication was clear: Suspense thickend. Mystery ensued. Electric sparks and smoke shot from the either side of the word. This was more than a simple, "OK, this is a time when you can talk to other people." For fifteen minutes, I would be able to make "connections" with other people, analyze their resources, and store away ideas of how I might later be able to tap into their knowledge in order to help my own projects.
This would be useful. This would be a practical way to become familiar with others' work. This would be a normal thing to do at work. But I think that there was also a temptation for the process to become self-centered. "How can you help me?" "How might I use this time to get ahead?" "What can I get from others?" This sentiment wasn't an all-encompassing and overpowering. But its potential was present.
How, instead, could I participate in networking with the love of Christ? As I conducted professional conversations, how could I think of others before I think of myself? Rather than emphasizing what I might obtain, how could I concentrate on what I might offer to others (while still fulfilling the responsibilities of my job)? How could the time that I would spend in these exchanges be a gift to the person with whom I was speaking?