Monday, October 12, 2009

Networking - What NOT To Do!

I am going to start a new series on my blog called "Networking: What NOT To Do". This will consist of the stories I hear from other people (or witness myself) about networking faux pas.

People are often sharing with me the horrible actions they witness in the business world, and many of these stories are worth sharing... as a reminder and a warning to all of us on what not to do!

Email me with your stories!!

This week's letter talks about a wanna-be politician who does not understand how to network or fund raise. My guess is the woman in question will lose her race.

Dear Thom,

While in a local bakery yesterday, I ran into the mother of a child my daughter had gone to preschool with and whom I had not seen since preschool, three years ago. We were friendly at that time but not especially close and we never got together socially.

She ran up to me, gave me a big hug and said, "I'm running for District Attorney!" I replied, "That's wonderful. You have my vote!" Without missing a beat she said, "I had no idea it took so much money to run a campaign! You're good at networking. Will you give me some contacts?"

Fortunately my daughter tugged at my sleeve and pulled me away so we could get to her sewing class on time. I waved at her and said, "It was nice to see you!"


Having not seen Leslie in years, it was fine that the woman in question shared her news with her about her run for District Attorney. However, since they did not have close relationship, asking her for contacts (of whom she could hit up for money) upon a chance meeting in a bakery was a mistake. If she really viewed Leslie as a respected person who could help with her campaign, she should have handled it differently.

My advice: A chance meeting with a near stranger while buying baked goods is not the time or the place to ask for a favor. If she really remembered Leslie as someone she admired, investing some time to reach out to her in a more professional manner, maybe going through a mutual friend, and exploring the mutually beneficial reasons that they could work together for the common good might have produced better results. Instead she pounced on Leslie (like a hungry wolf would pounce on a pork chop) with inquiries of one way help that only would benefit her campaign efforts.

Networking is not just about you and your needs. It is not about expecting people you barely know to help you with all of your needs. It IS about establishing mutually beneficial ongoing relationships. It IS also about knowing the difference between those you have met, and those who are part of your network.

Have A Great Day.



Gardening at the Crossroads said...

I have been a member of our local Rotary Club for over 20 years and a past president. For most of theose years I was in a business that didn't require "netorking" per se.
A few years ago, I opened a restaurant. Drug company reps were a large part of my business. One meeting there was a prospective member who was a drug rep. Even though I knew better, I pounced on her like you mentioned. She never came back and I'm still kicking myself when I think of this and how we might have lost a good member because of my mistake.

David said...

What do you do when you desparately need help quickly and have not kept up any contacts? What is the best way to quickly build the relationships if you don't have a lot of time?

David said...

What is the best and quickest way to build these kinds of relationships? I have never kept up with past co-workers or been part of professional groups. I have been in transition for several months and now I am running out of time. Where do I start? I need to build a network from scratch very quickly. What should I do?

Thom Singer said...


Thanks for your comment. While there is no short cuts to creating the strong type of connections that lead to success from your professional network, there are ways to re-launch relationships with former co-workers (and others).

Reach out to them and let them know that you realize you "blew it" in keeping the friendship alive. Now that you are out of work you are embarrassed by how you took everyone for granted. Own the mistake, explain you have learned this lesson.

Do not ask them for job leads, but instead ask them to meet for coffee to catch up. Take an interest in them. Some of these people will then decide they want to help you. Others might not, but you cannot expect people you have paid no attention to for years to get up and help.

Good luck. Remember... all opportunities come from people... we just never know what people or when those opportunities will arrive --- thus treat everyone like they hold the key to your future.