Malcom Forbes once said that he judged a man by, "how he treats those that can do nothing for him, nor to him."
I know nothing of Malcom Forbes outside of this quotation. But it is more than enough for me to appreciate the way he thought.
Volumes and volumes have been written by Gen-Y on social media about the importance of keeping one's nose clean. Of remembering our "elevator pitch". Defining our "personal brand". Tidying up our cyber finger prints by considering that every move we make will one day be checked by a potential employer. Opening our Facebook to the world, making sure we have "nothing to hide". Never leaving home without a business card, and printing some up if we don't have any. About attending cocktail parties to exchange such cards, and about never having lunch alone. About finding a way to "suck it up" if we don't enjoy those things, because we have to do them anyway. About researching a company and a hiring manager for 50 years so we can adequately fake a personal interest in them during an interview.
We're told to always be selling. Networking. Researching. Polishing. Meeting and greeting.
And why? So that we make the right impression; nay the perfect impression on someone because they are a potential employer. Or a potential client. Or a gateway to a better network that might one day provide us access to same.
In other words, to keep up appearances for those who can do something for us or to us.
How weary I sometimes get of it. How plastic it all begins to appear after a time. And how shallow.
Of course, I must include the obligatory section of this post which reminds everyone that I am well aware that one can do all of these things and still be a damn decent fellow. I must also remind the world that I realize these things can sometimes be very important. But the point is, so much is written about the how's and why's of doing so for profit. Very little in comparison seems to be written about just plain, straight up decency and professionalism towards people when they can't yield you anything.
Don't save your A Game for your networks. Don't spend all of your mental capacity for meticulous research on a potential employer that you probably won't even be working for anymore five years from now, even if you get hired. Show some polish, class, and dedication even when almost nobody is watching. Not because the people you encounter might secretly be able to help you after all, but because your persona is your persona. You are either refined or you are not. Everything else is just selling a used car, as far as I'm concerned.