Every moment has the potential to be an opportunity. In DC, everyone means business. We’re hardwired with a competitive nature. Just attend a networking event.
I’ll admit, I’ve networked my a** off: in line at the bathroom, on the Red Line, walking home. Time is money — and my time was dedicated to establishing a lasting impression.
Of course, all of that changed when I got a job I enjoy. Now my time on the metro is spent blasting Persian rap through my headphones with a “don’t talk to me” look plastered on my face. While I ditched the network-and-metro gig, I always have my game face on for happy hour. You have to be down to network (and work hard… obviously) in this city if you want to excel.
And we carry that networking attitude with us in most of our interactions — remember, time is money — meeting new friends, coworkers, and potential dates.
Almost every interaction I have with a guy covers the following bases within the first few minutes:
I’m on a date interview before I’ve even decided if I’m interested in the position. The mystery goes down an entire notch by minute four. After one conversation, I know whether my parents will approve of him as my boyfriend. If the conversation is this generic, my parents will likely be bored with him, too.
The Best Kid
We ask because (1) we want to make sure the person is not a whack-job and (2) our competitive nature is coming out to play. We want to know how the person levels up to us. When we’re networking or making a pass at someone, we’re attempting to create a memorable image of ourselves within seconds.
I’ve been programmed to do this. In the Iranian community, our livelihood relies on our image. My mother constantly criticized me for having lower grades than the other kids and bragged about the success of my piano recital to parents. Since my report card didn’t earn bragging rights, she had to get creative. All of the kids were placed in a “Who’s The Best Kid” competition.
As I got older, my family in Iran began asking different questions – my cooking abilities, cleanliness, marriage prospects. My non-existent rice cooking expertise and the overdue laundry in the corner of my room forced my mom to be creative again.
“Farrah vas a virgin for a very long time. She vasn’t like her Ah-mer-ee-kan friends.”
The urge to create an image exists in every aspect of our lives and sometimes that never-ending competition gets exhausting. Sometimes the pressure to be the best just leads to insecurity and frustration — who wants to deal with that?
When it comes to networking, pick a time and place — walking out of the bathroom stall is not preferable. As for dating, we should probably stop judging people on their hometown. My mother is a whole different story.