I recently received an email from a former career development client of mine that I’d like to share with you (I have her permission). She worked really hard to build her networking skills and consequently landed a great job, so you can imagine her dismay the first time someone attempted to network with her, but did it in a most inconsiderate, unprofessional manner.
Her email speaks for itself. As you read it, try to identify the mistakes made by the ‘networker’ she is describing:
“I just wanted to share a lesson about networking I learned today that totally made me think of the things you tried to teach me when we worked together. At the beginning of August, I received a Facebook message from a student who was moving to North Carolina. He heard that I had worked at Company X and asked me some questions about it. I wrote him back, answered his questions best I could, and offered to put him in touch with people at the organization if he knew which department he was interested in.
“I didn’t hear back from him, and I didn’t think about it until today when I saw that he sent me a new Facebook message. His message started with something like: “Thanks for the info on Company X,” and contained what looked like a form letter asking information about another company where I had worked.
“I was surprised to find myself feeling really pissed off. I didn’t think that lack of a timely thank you would annoy me, but it did. The fact that he only thanked me two months later when he wanted me to give him more info about another organization just made the whole communication feel like a slimy transaction, exactly what networking is NOT supposed to feel like. I felt used. I decided that I’d give him a pass and replied, but I didn’t answer in as much detail, and if he does it again I won’t write back.”
Talk about a cautionary tale! It’s hard enough to find a new job as it is, especially in the current economic climate, and since most experts agree that word of mouth (i.e. networking) is the best way to find a new job, who knows what opportunities this person’s thoughtless behavior might have caused him to miss!
But you can avoid such mistakes very easily: Just remember to thank the people with whom you network, and do it right away. They are contributing their time – one of a person’s most valuable resources, along with their expertise (just as valuable!) to help you advance! Not only is saying “thanks” the right thing to do, you’ll also be amazed as you progress through your career, how often you run into people with whom you’ve networked. And when that happens, you don’t want your rude behavior to be the first thing they remember about you!
Vic has a passion for working with students and professionals who are preparing to establish careers on a global stage. He has extensive experience in leadership, career and organizational development in both the public and private sectors. Currently, he is a career counselor and adjunct associate professor for the University of Minnesota Law School, where he provides career path, job search strategy, and life-work balance counseling for law students, alumni, and foreign-trained attorneys. He is also principal of Cygnus 360, a career development consultancy that helps career counselors, career services offices, and clients with their career needs which include creating their brands using social networking tools and other technology. Vic is currently serving on the board for the National Association for Legal Career Professionals (NALP). He is a former board member for the Minnesota Career Development Association (MCDA), past president of the Minnesota Legal Career Professionals City Group, and former director of learning for the Minnesota Organization Development Network. You can follow Vic at Twitter or connect via LinkedIn.