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December 16, 2008

Care to network?

December 16. Day 169.

I'm going to keep this short, since I'm typing between coughs...

Thanks to this lovely cold, I only left the house for 10 minutes to pick up Chinsese takeout 4 blocks away. I drove.

But between writing my dissertation and blowing my nose, I got an idea.

It was the same sort of impulse that led me to commit to a daily asking and blog, on a whim, almost six months ago.

I assembled a list of several really cool and interesting friends and professional acquaintances -- people with different backgrounds, different takes on life, living in different corners of the world. And then I emailed them, inviting them to connect to one another. Here's the message, in case you're curious:
Hi Ladies,

While dutifully procrastinating on my dissertation, I got an idea that I'm getting more and more excited about!

Reflecting on how many wonderful new friends and professional connections I've made through my friends, I thought of assembling a narrow list of people I wish I could introduce, and then putting everyone in touch via email. Some of you already know one another, but most do not -- and it's sad to think of all the conversations that aren't happening because of distance, circumstance and inertia.

So, I'm sending this email to about 30 brilliant and enterprising people I'd love to connect across three continents, from the worlds of journalism, law, art, business, nonprofit, academia, and science.

I don't know where this could lead. Maybe a reporter could find a source through the list, or a filmmaker could find the right location for that elusive shot, or scientists on different coasts could trade ideas about cancer, or a tourist could have a nice dinner in someone else's hometown, or someone looking for a career change could learn about a new field, who knows?

(I didn't explicitly intend for this to be women-only, but since most of my super duper friends happen to be women, that's how it turned out.)

What I'd like to include:

[I told them to give me preferred contact info and a phrase or two about their specialties and interests.]

Participating means you should feel comfortable asking anyone on the list for an opinion, feedback, contacts, or advice about her specialty. You'd likewise do your best to reply when someone writes to you -- given you have time and it's a relevant question.

We must also promise to keep the list private, and use it with discretion.

One last thing: we could extend this, where you each make your own list, and include me, then those people make a list and include you. Then the network would broaden in interesting ways for each of us. But that risks being chainletter-y, so I'm not convinced. Just bringing up the possibility.

That's the gist. Facebook is so huge, Linked-in sucks, so why not resort to good old email?

If I don't hear from you by Jan 1, I'll assume you're not interested. Otherwise, please send me your info or let me know if have any concerns/suggestions, and we can go from there!

Ok, back to Baudelaire...


La Roxy
A day later, more than a third have replied! One made this great point: "I find it so interesting that our generation is resorting to conscious networking, using of course the tools of our times. More and more, I hear about people making efforts like these to meet new people, even to date."

No wonder golf courses are struggling.

Gained: While I have nothing to gain -- since I'm already lucky to have these individuals as my friends -- maybe they do. I didn't plan for this to be an official asking, but why not include it? It's not something I'd normally think of doing, and it's about women and their careers.
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