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This spring break I’m going to be riding the Miami Startup Bus. The more I find out about the competition the more surprised I am they let a sucker like me in. From the site, “StartupBus is a national competition. 6 buses of strangers travelling 60 miles per hour have 48 hours to conceive, build, and launch a startup.” When I tell people about this they say, “wow! what a great networking opportunity!” which it is, but when I hear it I cringe a little.

The word “networking” just sounds dirty to me. I picture a bunch of people in a room figuring out ways to best exploit those they bump into. Any time I’m at an event like that it’s difficult to trust the sincerity of those I meet. There’s no human connection when you know people are BSing BSers.

My naive idea is that you should just make friends. Connect with people you like and respect. Recognizing their talents and helping people leverage them is just part of that friendship.

[Edit: Not sure if this was clear – I’m planning on leaving the StartupBus with lots of new friends.]

Today I was required to go to a ‘career luncheon’, I tweeted that the attendees of a brothel brunch would have more self respect. The visitors were from PayLess shoes, who have been doing well. So I’m in a room with these PayLess representatives and about thirty peers. The experience couldn’t have been more painful. These kids spent almost the entire hour (a full sixty minutes, I was literally on the verge of tears) asking about their fucking resumes. The genius girl in the room dropped the ‘social media’ bomb (and used the words ‘integrate’ and ‘implement’!) and by the reactions in the room you’d think she had cured cancer. This sent the PayLess rep on a very long speech about making a Facebook page. A later answer triggered what I think might be the answer to why so many companies fail in their social media campaigns.

The PayLess rep had spent an amazing amount of time talking about how great the company culture is. “I just have so much fun!” “All the senior executives are so accessible!” “We are going to go on a ropes course!” Then, when talking about how he hired people, he told us all about how he didn’t hire someone because they were drinking in a picture. Then the other rep, a young woman, chimed in, “Yeah, it’s a really comfortable situation at work and I’m friends with everyone on my team. I just have to be very careful about what people see. Like, I went to a friend’s bachelorette party the other day and I had a blast but I can’t just put those pictures up. Like [and this chicita  said ‘like’ A LOT], I saw a co-workers Facebook partying and I just thought it was wrong. Like, we’re co-workers… I want to keep things professional.” REALLY!? If your job requires that you be sober and celibate (not saying putting nudez online is a good idea…) and that’s not who you are, you’re selling your soul. If keeping things professional means that you can’t enjoy yourself or actually make friends within the workplace, you’re done.

Tony Hsieh has built Zappos on the culture of real people . The only way social media can work for a company is if it feels real, not like a censored Facebook page.

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