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How To Network (And Stay Sane)

April 2017Words by Mr Alfred Tong

Illustration by Mr Giordano Poloni

Networking” sounds like something that happens at conferences in out-of-town hotels, in rooms filled with people in bad suits, “pressing the flesh”, “working the room” and “closing deals”.

But, as Ms Julia Hobsbawm explains in her new book Fully Connected, all of human life flows through networks of people and connections, for good and bad. Terrorism, gangsterism, and fake news are facilitated by clandestine networks both real and virtual, but so are positive phenomena like breakthroughs in science, medicine and philosophy. What is Cern if not a network of scientists?

So how we network, whom we choose to connect with, and the means by which we do it are hugely important, and in many cases, quite literally, a matter of life and death. A breakdown in communication between the distant bureaucracy of the World Health Organisation and the on-the-ground-agility of Médecins Sans Frontière helped to spread the deadly Ebola virus in Sierra Leone. Fake news is a symptom of networks gone awry, a breakdown in communication that spreads malicious lies.