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A Gross Abuse of 'Networking'

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Yes, yet another.

The front-and-center feature story of a recent WSJ Weekend Journal was entitled: "The Trophy Godparent: To get their kids an edge, some moms and dads are turning to A-list friends and acquaintances…"

As if the implications of choosing the spiritual guardian of your child on the basis of being "influential or wealthy, or at least in a position to give their child an edge," weren't bad enough, the practice is becoming so prevalent that some 'trophy godparents' are struggling to deal with overwhelming numbers of requests. The Journal rightly calls it an "offer some can't refuse" and tells of well-to-do people who have accepted up to two dozen of those offers!

First, there's nothing wrong with seeking to associate with people who are successful, powerful, intriguing, smart, etc., nor wanting to expose your children to such people. In fact, I encourage it. I consistently seek to fill my life first and foremost with the most interesting people possible, people who want to make a difference in this world. Also, it shouldn't be a surprise that I'm a proud godfather of two wonderful boys, yet it was based on their parents and me already having a deep, close personal relationship.

I had been emotionally present with the parents during the pregnancy, and they knew I'd take my role seriously as I continue to do. And if had a newborn child today, I suspect the godparents I'd choose would naturally be pretty interesting and perhaps influential, as many of my friends happen to be.

But when you're choosing godparents for a child, reaching out randomly for the top of the A-list and choosing someone for their usefulness to you should never be the FIRST move. If by the time you're expecting, they aren't already your dearest friends, then don't ask them. If you do, you'll only be signaling insincerity and shallowness. Making a godparent out of someone who's not already invested in you and your child isn't the way to business or career success anyway. However, if they're truly your friends, if they're the people you want giving your child the challenging, difficult, and perhaps contrarian advice that you might not offer as a parent (and probably taking the kid to Disneyland a few times), AND coincidentally, they're rich, powerful, and famous, then fine, go for it.

Last updated: Dec 2, 2004

KEITH FERRAZZI

Keith Ferrazzi is the author of two NY Times best-selling books, Never Eat Alone and Who’s Got Your Back, and founder and CEO of consulting firm Ferrazzi Greenlight.




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