Networks show their real value when they serve their members. This is the benefit of relationships built on trust, over time; the give and take of offering and–when you need it–asking for help
Jessica Lipnack and Jeffrey Stamps (authors of The Age of the Network) write: “One person with a need contacts another with a resource and networking begins.” Today’s blog focuses on three true stories that I call the good, the bad and the ugly of asking for help. Which one do you relate to?
The Good: “John” went to the statewide high school football super bowl game. It was a cold, wintery day, but he had played in high school himself, so he knew how excited the kids would be; besides, he wanted something to take his mind off his job search. During the game, he happened to see a former co-worker whose son was playing; naturally they struck up a conversation about the game and eventually about work. As part of the rapport of everyday life, John told him he was still in a search and the fellow responded that he did business with a company that had an opening for someone with John’s background and expertise—would John send him his resume? According to John: “The rest is history.” So when you feel you are “standing on the sidelines,” remember: Networking never stops!
The Bad: A client had set up 3:00 phone appointment to discuss his job search. When he hadn’t called by 3:20, I called him. Guess his reply when I reminded him of our appointment:
- “Oh yeh, thanks for calling.”
- “Oh my goodness, I am so sorry! Do you have time to talk now or should we reschedule?”
- “Huh? Are you sure? Why didn’t my iPhone remind me?”
If you guessed #3 you have, unfortunately, guessed right. Here’s an everyday networking tip: Never blame your mistake on anyone or (in these days of technological secretaries) anything else. Accept responsibility by apologizing for your mistake and move on.
The Ugly: Sometimes we can learn as much about how important our reputation and relationships are from a negative networking experience as we can from a good one. I received an email from a woman referred to me by a professional friend asking if “she could buy me a cup of coffee.” “Evelyn” (not her real name) sent me several flattering messages about how much she had heard about me (and, by the way, could I just take a quick look at her resume), how excited she was for the opportunity to meet with a networking guru (me!), and how she was looking forward to our coffee date—which was 30 minutes away from my office! Then, at the very last minute, she cancelled! She emailed me an apology and left me a voice mail “explaining” she had just been invited to go to a professional meeting where she was sure she would “meet people” who could get her closer to a key person she really needed to connect with. Little did she know that her “important target” lives just a few doors from me and I see him a few times a week! After she cancelled, I never heard from “Evelyn” again. And when the person who referred her to me asked how the meeting with Evelyn went…need I say more—my comments were “ugly.”
Not a good way to build a relationship, or a reputation!
Next week’s daily tips cover 5 steps for becoming comfortable, concise, courteous, and clear when asking for help.