Lots of Bad Networking Advice Out There
There is an enormous amount of content put out about the topic of networking each year. Whether it’s leveraging social media or strategies on how to find even more contacts on LinkedIn, the advice for the most part is really, really bad.
Clearly there is a genuine interest in how one goes about building one’s network. That’s why books like mine continue to sell. People are always looking for ideas on how they might go about building their network.
A solid network, after all, is our primary source of business, job opportunities and professional referral relationships.
So, what’s so bad about trying accelerate one’s progress and speed up the process? Nothing except most of the advice given seems to be geared towards helping someone figure out how to shortcut the process.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again –– there are no shortcuts to relationship building.
If you are trying to build your network like a jackrabbit on a blind date, you are doing it wrong. It may feel like you are being fast and efficient, but it’s not.
This past week I had a conference call with a connection that a professional colleague had arranged. This particular individual was struggling in his job search and she felt like he would benefit from knowing me. I trust this person so I agreed to setup a call.
The day came for our call and it became immediately obvious. This guy was jackrabbit networking.
To give you a sense of how this played out, the guy actually said in the first 30 seconds, “I’m not even sure who initially connected us but after looking at your LinkedIn profile clearly you can help me in my job search.” And without taking a breath he launched into a five minute recap of his professional history, how his last employer “f****** him over” and that he need to make some professional connections pronto.
Wait a minute, you don’t remember the really nicely written email from our mutual connection? But more importantly, that doesn’t even phase you because you’ve done your research on me and you clearly see I’m someone who should drop everything to help you?
Sorry Jack, but Homie don’t play that.
When this guy finally let me speak, I asked him one very simple question. “I’ve looked at your LinkedIn profile as well and you have a ton of contacts, over 5000 if I recall, so why do you need my help?”
There was momentary silence.
Then he offered, “Well I don’t really know any of those people. They are all people I’ve met at networking events or did business with one time at my last job.”
So let me get this straight.
You meet someone.
Automatically add them to your LinkedIn network.
Never talk to them again?
Sounds like a brilliant plan. How’s that working out for you?
Don’t Be Jack, Put In The Work
I won’t bore with you how I got myself out of that very uncomfortable and painful conversation. Let me just say, I see a great many Jacks out there in the world. Whether they are looking for a quick connection to make a job change or simply trying leapfrog their way into a business opportunity. Some people are always looking for a shortcut because they aren’t really committed to putting in the work to make things happen.
To build a network of any real value, you must be committed to building the right relationships with the right people period! It will take time, it will take effort and it will require work on your part.
Sure there are other bloggers, authors, speakers and tons of books and articles that will tell you differently. They’ll try and convince you that building a network is a fast, seamless process. But it’s not.
One particular self-proclaimed “expert” I follow spouts the worst advice on networking. Their audience seemingly laps it up because, I suspect, most aren’t really committed to building networks of any real value in the first place. Like a drug addict, they are simply looking for the quick fix and this person’s advice scratches that itch. Forget the fact that it’s being spun by someone who has never built anything of value, been fired from every job they ever had and has no network they could depend on if they had to. As long as the lemmings are lining up to hear them or read their latest musings, they believe their advice is needed and is actually helpful.
It’s painfully bad in fact.
And people who get it about networking, know this instantly too.
Don’t be Jack or take advice from a jackrabbit prognosticator.
Here’s a few tips to avoid being a jackrabbit networker:
- Refuse to take the shortcuts when it comes to building your network.
- Recognize it takes an investment of time to build real relationships with people.
- Understand that it will take considerable effort on your part to differentiate yourself when building these relationships.
- Never ask someone for a favor that you haven’t first built a relationship with.
- Stop compromising quality for quantity.
- Don’t automatically add someone to your LinkedIn. EVER!
The process of building one’s network can be a challenge, don’t let me mislead you. Have you built your network like a jackrabbit? If so, you may need a little extra guidance along the way to fix those bad habits and get your networking efforts headed in the right direction. I may be able to help.
Let’s find some time to chat and discuss how a personal coaching session or two can help.