15 August 2007

Networks, Networking, & Netting | August 2007

For the rest of July and the beginning of August I was busy planning for The National Association of Black Journalists 32nd Annual Convention & Career Fair (NABJ 2007). The convention was held here in Las Vegas and as a Secretary of the host chapter, I had to a lot to do.

Every year, the convention is in a different city. The host chapter uses it as a fundraising opportunity. The money raised is used for scholarships and to promote the chapter in its community. Here in Las Vegas, the local chapter has almost no recognition. The Las Vegas Association of Black Journalists started years ago, then disbanded, then reincorporated in 2005. I joined in 2006. My first year as a member, I felt as if we weren't accomplishing anything. This year, I was elected to the executive board. Even though there was still no real plan for the chapter, I was excited to plan for the convention. I figured it would be a good way for the members to be active, and to get our name out there as a legitimate organization. NABJ 2007 began on August 8th. As I soon learned, it was all about Networks, Networking, and Netting.

While diversity is defined as "the act of being diverse," and diverse is defined as "differing from one another," businesses tend to define diversity as "having different colored people." Networks use NABJ has a diversity supermarket. Representatives go, walk the aisles, pick out what on their list, and pay for it. I don't want to make it sound like a bad process - because the applicants want the jobs. It's a win - win situation. It's just that I disagree with the idea that diversity can be seen on someone's face. So I think - although it looks good that networks are out there doing what they think is right - they're missing the point.

In the TV News business, everyone knows someone who knows someone else. There are good markets to begin careers and good middle markets. But there are only a handful of top markets.. with hundreds of people vying for the same positions in those markets. This convention, like any other convention I suppose, is at much about schmoozing as it is about learning. I've attended a few conventions before, but this was the first time I had been as an observer. I didn't attend any of the workshops at NABJ. I was there to work the chapter table, selling t-shirts and drawing tickets. I did meet a lot of people, and I exchanged a lot of business cards but my focus was on making money for the chapter.

Being an observer showed me another side of the convention. I like to call it "netting." The "netters" are usually women, trying to catch attention. At first I thought they were looking for mates, then I realized it's more about being noticed. Being invited to this after party or that one, wearing uncomfortable clothes and shoes that are fun and fashionable - but not practical.

NABJ 2007 was a great people watching experience for me. I learned a lot about what I don't think is important in life and careers. That's another post for another time.

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