Networking or Flirting?

I attended a conference about a month ago. The focus was based around social sustainability and social enterprise. The panels, workshops, and keynotes presented new ways in which business can impact society. Throughout the conference you were encouraged to network with your colleagues and attendees. At the end of each day we were treated to cocktail parties and after parties in the town of Ithaca. It was an amazing experience. However what I found most interesting was how people interacted with each other in this supposedly professional setting. You found yourself wrapped into deep conversations dealing with the issues and trends we have been tutored in all weekend. However as time went on I actually found myself dissecting the conversations I was having. And began wondering, are we networking or flirting.

Is it possible for people to hold conversations with those they find attractive without thinking about sex? I mean here I was talking with a woman I met during a panel discussion about CSR and while we were talking, I immediately started to pick up signs that she might have been interested in something other than corporate philanthropy. Is this just how the male brain operates or all of ours? Was she thinking the same thing? The entire dilemma of the situation completely spun my attention away from the topic we were discussing and more towards whether or not I was giving off the right body language or still smelt good after a long day of conferencing. Then again how much conferencing can one person take and maybe this was just a way to escape the riggers of a long day. At night the flirtatious eyes and hair swinging were definitely apparent whether we all cared to realize it or not. So I began thinking…

Work lags, but does hold our interest if its something we tell ourselves we love. However at the root of ourselves, burning deep inside, we have simple desires. We thrive off attention, more so if it comes from those we find appealing and attractive. No matter what level you might hold in the dark arts of dating, your defenses and self-control can be broken down by the right offensive. Hair, eyes, smell, interests, anything can become a turn on or attraction, given the right or wrong situation.

Therefore in the midst of trying to save the world and make it a better place, did we all have another motive? Again, maybe its my raging hormones or the quintessential male coming out, but I beg to differ on this one. We all decided to dress to impress, but for what really? Was it actually to land that job or did something in the back of our mind tell us we wanted to look our best in case someone crossed our path that weekend?  They say our minds recognize attraction in seconds therefore its natural whether your trying to remain professional or not, to be thinking of everything but.

We  are after all adults and human and we do flirt with each other. Lets be honest with our feelings and emotions because they will come out when we least expect or want. These moments of flirting we find ourselves becoming involuntarily drawn into are natural. We use flirting as an escape in this case. Why bore ourselves, when we can have fun with each other. If anything else, it helps us break the ice or routine we too commonly fall into with our all important careers and self . You never know, you might find out something about yourself you wouldn’t have imagined.

What I took from that conference is that we will always be learning from each other. Whether its on a professional or personal level. Personally, I feel the self lessons are worth more than any others and believe I grew a great deal from the experiences I had in Ithaca and from the people I met. So don’t fret when you feel something for someone at one of these things. Instead, engage it and see where it leads. Don’t be embarrassed if you feel this way or be scared other might be feeling something. Hey, they put booze around a bunch of work crazed, high strung, stiff corporate drones, what do you think they thought would happen. Keep it comfortable. Keep it sociable. Keep moving on. I never said you would find love or a date. But maybe you’ll find more opportunities than you signed up for.

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