I’m on LinkedIn. Like just about everyone else with a job or something about themselves that requires a hard sell, professionally. I don’t use it much, simply because I’m more or less happy where I am and don’t necessarily need a recommendation, or an endorsement, or whatever. But somewhere down the line, I’m sure it will be useful, so there I am.
A friend of mine from high school recently expressed surprise at finding me there, because he thought that this was “too corporate” for me. As long as he’s known me (and we’re talking decades now), I’ve always been left of center/under the radar/quirky/artistic/not pulling down a six-figure salary. So I suppose I understand what he meant.
But “networking” is not the sole property of CorporateWorld™ and so, no, promoting myself and my abilities on LinkedIn is not constituting a grave violation of my personal code of ethics, whatever that may be.
So this got me to thinking about what it means, exactly, to be “too corporate.” And I just don’t know what it means, really. Other than a brief dalliance in retail after college, my entire “professional” life has been in nonprofit arts management. If anything, I know what it is to be completely NOT corporate. To wit:
I know that I don’t have to cover up my tattoos in the office.
I know that for the last few weeks, almost every staff meeting and/or internal electronic communication has featured the term “butt sparkler,” and that this is 100% legitimate, relevant, and entirely professional. (I suppose that merits an explanation, so here you go.)
I know that we recently received a lovely gift of orchids at the front desk, with an enclosed card addressed simply to “Bitches.” And that the person manning the front desk knew exactly who they were for.
I know that the revelation that our webmaster is in an all-male Lady Gaga tribute band was met with as much shock and awe as a report on the weather outside.
And at the end of any given day, I know that a kid has seen live theatre for the first time, that the curtain will go up on an amazing set which will provoke gasps and applause, that someone will be moved to tears by an exchange onstage.
That, I suppose, is what keeps me from being “too corporate.”