(Disclaimer: I just discovered the magical world of gifs)
I have hilariously bad luck when it comes to networking, methinks. Interviews or meetings … they can be painfully awkward experiences, which is ironic given that I liken myself to a social butterfly.
The good news is that they make for naturally funny stories (funny in a fuck-my-life kinda way), so the comedic value of this blog can run on its own steam without any expended effort on my part. Woo.
I’d been speaking to this senior-level sports industry guy for about a year. He was in the alpha stage of my new job-hunt experiment: using LinkedIn to harass the living shit out of people for either information or employment. I wrote an articulate, well-developed but nonetheless very direct message in 100 words or less (as was suggested by LinkedIn InMail’s ‘best practices’) asking for advice. I’d just come back from London, broke and broken-hearted, and I had no idea what the American sports industry landscape looked like. I’d never engaged the Big Four (NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL) before, so I was a wet match in a dark place and needed some guidance. When he responded (to my surprise), he mentioned how impressed he was at the composition of my message that he’d circulated it to his colleagues.
We later set up an appointment for a phone conversation, at which time he expanded his mantra “It’s better to be interested than interesting” for 10-15 minutes. “You really need to take your time, get settled back in, and decide what it is that you want to do.”
So we kept in sparing communication over the past year, on the occasions when I needed to kamikaze his inbox for contacts or more advice. When I came home, he invited me to visit his office (here in Orange County). I thought it would be a good opportunity to meet him and thank him in person for helping me, and I also wanted his opinion on whether it’s better to have broad experience across the sports industry or a unifying skill-set or discipline across multiple industries. Well, ya know, I don’t know where communication went awry, but I guess he thought I’d come to beg for a job.
I was waiting for 20 minutes in their front lobby–when I was told that it’d only be 5 minutes–and when I was finally able to see him, in the middle of our “meeting”, a sales associate came in, set up his laptop, and the two of them had a phone conference with a potential client while I sat in the room, mouth agape. A Dyson couldn’t have swallowed up the awkwardness in that room.
When they’d hung up, he immediately (and almost instinctively) set off on the same speech–verbatim–that he’d given me the first time we ever spoke—one year ago. He kept the sales associate in the room to use as an example. “You see so-and-so here? He’s from New York. He met me at a conference in (insert Midwestern town here), and then he harassed me to give him an internship. Even his parents called me! Then he moved out here, started an unpaid internship with me, and now he works here. And he’s not the only one! I have [unpaid] interns here on welfare! One time I had a kid in a wheelchair take the OCTA (OC public transit) right to this office’s doorstep every morning. THAT’S dedication. I think it’s nice that you want to talk to as many people as you can for advice and all that cutesy shit, but what you really need to do is get your hands dirty. I mean, who’s gonna turn down free labor?” The million-dollar question.
At that instantaneous moment, I thought of my taxi ride from my apartment to the Portland Jetport the day I left Maine: my driver was an ex-Manchester United alum (’78 U-21 team most likely); he told me that the sports world was oversaturated with misogynists and overcompensating egos. “But the consciousness is lifting. It has to, otherwise this business won’t survive.”
My ‘mentor’ escorted me out of his office, where his receptionist and Executive Assistants I and II were all at their desks comparing pedicures: bombshell bottle-blondes my age with massive lashes and massive tatas, whose breakthrough professional credential was having been a cheerleader for the San Diego Chargers.
“Stacy, go get Frances a t-shirt.”
“No, that really isn’t necessary. I’m fine, thank you.”
“Are you sure? Cah-mahhhhn what’s your size? Medium? Large?” (Bitch.)
“No, seriously. I don’t want a t-shirt.”
“No? Don’t wanna do some free marketing for me?”
“Fine. Give me the damn shirt.”
There was no point to this story. Here’s your free marketing.
Honestly, what is up with people and trying to clothe me?