Networking infection

S1-N1: Infection – Proceed with Caution!

One out of every three people in Boulder Colorado is infected.

This is a serious epidemic with serious consequences. The worst part is those carrying the disease are often unaware of their condition and ignorant of just how quickly the disease unfolds and how contagious they are.

What could be so contagious yet fly so low below the radar?

Emerging and a resurgence of cases of what is now known as ‘S1-N1’ spread quickly in start-up communities due to close and constant contact with young professionals. The disease is asymptomatic at first, and then escalates quite rapidly. Symptoms include word vomit, an inability to listen, and a high fever of social events. Sadly, in the most severe form, S1N1 steals a person’s ability to sincerely connect with others. If you haven’t heard of S1-N1 before, you may know its common name; S1-N1 is Superficial Networking Syndrome.

I was diagnosed with S1-N1 about a year ago when I started my first job at a SaaS company in the land of start-ups – Boulder, Colorado. Handing out my new shiny business cards was something I was so looking forward to! Without rhyme or reason, I found myself attending as many networking events as I could cram into my Google Calendar. I was brand new to the world of networking and was infected with S1-N1 quickly. When the sickness progressed, I found myself talking over my new friends to ensure that they knew just how important I was because of my new connections. I was introducing new people to some very dear friends of mine without thinking too much about if the introduction would be a valuable introduction for both parties. I was looking to be the most connected person around town, and I wanted my new connections to see me in that light.

About six months after the initial infection, I sought treatment. Luckily, the most basic is also the most effective sort of treatment – simply listen first, and talk second. The great news is that the better you listen, the better you speak and connect with people. If you are devoted to connecting with a passion and a purpose, you are lowering your risk of S1-N1. Another follow up treatment is to ask follow up questions. Questions like:

  • How did you find yourself here?
  • Did you choose your career or did it choose you?
  • What personal and professional goals are you working on?
  • Have you learned any major life lessons recently?
  • What would you do differently in the last year if you had to choose?

Professionals are investigating the causes of S1-N1. Thus far, research shows a dependence on social media causes people to be caught up in the perceived day-to-day importance of their own lives with little concern for others. Because of this, many, especially the young, have grown accustom to talking over one another. Patients scroll through life as though they were scrolling through a Twitter feed. Some network just to network, with no intention of following through or truly connecting. We have become attached to what we do, not why we do it. Why we do something is actually much more important than what we are doing.

Don’t miss out on the people around you. Engage them, and let them engage you. It’s okay to share personal stories – our lives live online anyway. The point is, you don’t have to spill your guts, but you do have to make a personal connection with those you meet in a professional environment. Networking can be very powerful if we step back and stop trying to control the entire process. Many people today found a job they love thanks to networking. The next time you are out and about, try doing something for somebody without expecting anything in return. Kent Keith presents a definitive diagnostic tool for S1-N1 stating: “The best measure of a man is to observe how he treats people who can do absolutely nothing for him” Once you start building relationships without S1-N1, you will notice side effects like richer conversations, more powerful connections, and the strongest of all – joy.

Read more about my personal journey of S1-N1 and speaking at Ignite Boulder here


Megan Milan has a passion for connecting with people on a personal level. She is privy to spending time outdoors and passing the time with a Hemingway novel or two. Born and raised in Colorado – this Vail baby is devoted to finding a cure for S1-N1.

Join the cause! Connect with @meganmilan!