I wrote an article on Entrepreneur.com last week entitled “Why Everyone Should talk About Politics While Networking” and in my opening line I state, “Yes, I believe everyone should talk about politics (and religion) while networking . . . if they’d like their network to go up in flames, that is!”
Though I may have been very active in politics over the years and I do, indeed, have a definite religious/spiritual leaning, I have found that it is undoubtedly best not to mix my views/beliefs in these areas with my business networking activities because these topics can be VERY divisive. Opening up a dialogue of a political or spiritual/religious nature with those in your network tends to be something that will more than likely invoke passionate, heated arguments which is NOT a good thing for a networking environment (take a look at the full article for my complete commentary and explanation).
Soon after the Entrepreneur.com article came out, someone left a comment in the comment forum beneath the article that I found quite surprising. The comment they posted says:
“This guy Ivan Misner sure sounds like a Communist to me. If it walks like a duck . . .”
Really? I’m “a Communist” because I said that people who want to be successful at networking should not talk about politics and religion in a business networking environment? Okay, well, I guess I should really thank the person who posted the comment because they’re ultimately helping to make my point. Discussions about politics and religion can make people say some crazy things.
By the way, here’s how I responded to the comment:
“Too funny. You clearly don’t know me. Besides, a true Marxist-Leninist would be out leading the proletariat revolution of the capitalists and I’m too busy being a capitalist.”
Hey, I always had a hunch my Political Science degree would come in handy someday yet I never would’ve imagined it would be through someone calling me “a Communist,” that’s for sure.
What’s your feeling on the appropriateness of discussing politics and/or religion in a business networking environment? Have you tried it yourself, or maybe networked with someone who makes a habit of bringing up these subjects when you’re conversing while networking? What has your experience been? . . . I highly encourage you to leave a comment; I’m very interested in hearing some different perspectives on this. Thanks!