Note: These are not 'ranked' in any way. This is the first one I wrote about, so it's #1.
If you consider yourself a young professional in D.C., then you know exactly what I'm talking about. Have you ever been invited to go to a "networking" happy hour, or any sort of "networking" event?
If you're like me, you hate the entire idea of these sorts of things. Does anyone really believe that some dude you meet at a happy hour and exchange your "program assistant" business cards with will really be able to get you a job somewhere? There are a few problems with this logic, the first being that anyone who has the power to truly influence hiring decisions won't be going to a networking event at the Front Page. Second, if you do have any sort of influence at your organization, you aren't going to go out on a limb for someone you barely know. Third, the economy is in the toilet and there's 500 people applying for every job opening in this town.
As such, these events are often attended by the person I'll describe as the professional networking blowhard. This is the guy (or girl) who absolutely has to tell you about how amazing his job is, and how much he has accomplished in the 23 years he has been alive. Did you know that he went backpacking in Asia and is so tired of seeing temples that he will be happy if he never sees one ever again? Also, when he studied at Oxford, his flatmate from Mehhh-He-Ko (Mexico) taught him about the perils of the Zapatistas? What does he do now? Well, he works on an important program at [prominent non-profit]. You've never even heard of where he works, but don't worry, he'll tell you all about it. If you work for another non-profit, or a government agency, he'll have a story about how just the other day he ran into the executive director (or cabinet secretary) of where you work. "Yeah, I totally ran into Secretary Chu downtown and we talked about renewable energy. He's a nice guy."
But you're just jealous of his success!
Nope. In my experience the people who you actually want to meet, and actually want to make "connections" with are too busy actually doing things to attend some sort of grown-up equivalent of a high school mixer. The people who are making a difference and who may be in a position to help you make a difference as well don't go around talking about their epic life experience. You'll find the real people to "network" with at events that have some sort of meaning, or that revolve around something you are actually interested in. Reach out to people who write things you enjoy reading. Attend a community meeting about a topic that you feel is important. Volunteer for something that's a bit obscure and isn't filled only with people trying to deal with liberal guilt.
Of course the networking blowhard isn't endemic to D.C. They likely exist in many cities. However, the nature of D.C. seems to encourage their development. We have a constant rat race, with everyone trying to gauge how they stack up. You have a whole bunch of people who were told they would change the world and they don't know how to play nice in the sandbox once they realize they aren't actually that special. You think you've got a good job that makes a difference? Well, there's always somebody doing more. No matter who you are. Need confirmation of that? Just remember that arguably the most powerful person on the entire planet lives just down the street from you.
Verdict: This personality trait is often cited as one of the reasons why people hate living in D.C. You seemingly can't go anywhere, to a bar, a restaurant, or a party without meeting this person. This is a justifiable reason to cite when expressing discontent about our city. However, this person can be avoided. Shy away from any sort of activity that is billed as a networking event. Shy away from any sort of forced socialization that is branded as a way to meet people who can help "develop your career." The person who is going to help you get the job you dream of, or help you start a new business is probably somewhere working on something they think is important. You won't find them drinking the $3 rail drink special in a suit and tie spouting off stories about that time they met Tony Blair on the lift.
You're in America now jackass, it's called an elevator.