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I went for another run this morning and my running coach mentioned “connections”: how many people could you check in on today, outside of social media, directly in person, via phone or text? I realize that while I have a lot of “connections” – that more important list of people could use a few more names. Maybe yours could too?
To do that, I’m always open to new ways of meeting and talking to new people and find out what they’re all about. In times were meeting in person still is somewhat problematic, I decided to give the networking app Bumble another try. Bumble was first founded to, as their website states, “challenge the antiquated rules of dating”, but they’ve since expanded to platonic friends and professional networking as well. Here’s a review of my not-so-great experience with the people on the network.
“Start meeting new people in your area!”
Bumble claims to “empower users to connect with confidence”. Too much confidence, maybe? They have options for dating, networking, or meeting new friends online. I didn’t try their dating service, and the “BFF” (or friends) section hardly had any people in my area.
As a small business owner, connecting and networking is vital to find new people. Career and business opportunities come when you’re open to new ideas, and new people. It’s not just about expanding your network, but expanding your mindset to learn and grow from other viewpoints and ideas. To facilitate that, Bumble claims to prioritize kindness and respect, aiming to provide a safe online community for users to build new relationships. And unfortunately, that’s where the network falls short.
The worst networking I’ve ever experienced
The issue with professional networking in general (both online and offline) is that everyone arrives with their hand out, hoping to make a quick sale and find that next client. Bumble is no different. The network is full of multi level marketing sales people and “financial educators” who try to get you to attend one of their events to buy their product. On Bumble, the what I call “one-way-networking effect” is amplified by the close-minded nature of social media, combined with “keyboard warriors” and self-proclaimed gurus that hide behind online profiles.
Have you ever seen anyone publicly change their mind on social media? It doesn’t happen. Social media polarizes the conversation. Opposing opinions are driven further apart, instead of being used as a learning opportunity. Seeing a different opinion doesn’t mean you have to agree with it. The close-mindedness of one-way-networking directly contributes to the mental health epidemic we’re experiencing. Everybody has a burden they carry. Everybody has a story. We just don’t know what it is. Get to know somebody’s story. Open your heart up for somebody else. Not being familiar with an experience doesn’t mean you cannot open your heart to it. And that one more unpleasant comment, passive aggressive reply, or unfriendly undertone in a message may be the last straw for the human being on the other end that day.
Be interested (not interesting)
In my experiences on Bumble, I’ve met a few interesting characters. Self-proclaimed gurus, technology leaders, financial educators, and business coaches included. Unfounded “6 and 7 figure” income claims are my favourite, because without a specific number we know that means you’re doing zero. When asked, “tell me more about what you do”, the response was “Google my name and please provide some feedback on how am I doing.”
There’s a saying that “if you’re boring in real life, you’re still boring on social media”. Don’t pretend to be something you’re not. Talk is cheap and actions speak louder than words. Do something interesting and talk about that. Another take on that saying holds true as well for some of the Bumblers I’ve met: “if you’re an *sshole on social media, you’re still and *sshole in real life”. There’s really, truly no need for the unpleasantries and self-inflated ego’s. When networking and meeting other people, aim to be interested (not interesting). Being social has nothing to do with you, but always starts with the other person.
Being interested and curious to find out what someone does creates a real conversation about what matters to the other person. Those are the kinds of conversations I enjoy having. Yes, ultimately the goal of any business is to make money but that part just happens once you meet people, have a real conversation and find out what they do. The best networking event I’ve ever attended had nothing to do with sales, but everything with meeting genuinely interesting people and discovering the businesses they ran in attempting to make a difference in the world. If you could change the world – how would you change it?
On a side note – I’ve ended my experiment and deleted my Bumble account. I had some pretty unpleasant experiences with some people. That’s not Bumble’s fault, but then again I wouldn’t attend a networking event twice that’s known to bring *ssholes together. Sorry, Bumble. And to the guy demanding me to “google his name” and provide feedback: unless you’re an A or B list celebrity of sorts nobody is going to Google your name. You’re neither of those things.
One more thing
P.S. I’ve felt pretty lonely and isolated in the middle of this covid pandemic, and experiences like this one didn’t help that problem much, but actually made it worse. The end is near… but I’ve decided to post my personal number just in case anyone wants to connect and say hello. Let’s be more than internet friends. Text me: 604-210-8668 – so I can add you to my phone and check in every once in a while.