How (not) to network…
Hello Career Enthusiasts & Friends of CoachRod!
How have you all been? I hope life’s been treating you well and you’re maximizing your career plans, and at the same time, enjoying some quality time with your loved ones.
It’s been some time since I have had a chance to write a post given everything’s that has been going on, and I missed you. Well, life has given me a tiny break and I REALLY wanted to share this (REAL) story with you. I hope you enjoy it.
Let me know your thoughts after you read it and I hope this helps all of us to learn ‘How to (not) Network’.
And, to do that, here is a true story which happened to me last week. Of course, I will keep all names and dates fictitious so that I can preserve the anonymity of all the involved, except me.
Last Wednesday I received the following message via LinkedIn:
How are you? I am reaching out to you as I see that there’s a job available at your company and I am a perfect fit for this role. For the past six months, I have been living in Vancouver and am looking for a job so that I can settle here. Could you share with me any insights you have about the team and the position, and possibly connect me to the hiring manager? Many thanks!
Now I must pause to give you some context. Here it is:
This person approached through LinkedIn 16 months ago to ask me company (the organization I work for) related questions. As I always do, I take time to answer all these types of questions and to point all individuals to the right resources on the website (always do what you wish others would do for you, right?). So after a couple of back and forth messages back then (16 months ago), the individual thanked me and ‘went on’ his way. Since then I have never heard from this person again until the message ‘hit‘ me on LinkedIn last week. Now back to the story and some thoughts that occurred to me as I reflected how to best reply to his request:
- You were living overseas when you messaged me. If the company I work for is on your ‘target list’, why did you not reach out to me before when you moved to Vancouver to start building a relationship?
- Maybe you did not have time to strategize your job search as you have been overwhelmed with getting settled in Vancouver for the past six months. I get it. But how about trying to get some ‘face time’ so that you build a relationship and then assess the potential for the referral question?
After reflecting on how to best answer his message for 24 hours, I decided to write back. Here’s what I wrote in my reply:
‘Dear Networking Genius,
Thank you for your note. I did not know you had relocated to Vancouver – welcome to Vancity! I hope life’s going well.
Re your question about the role and the hiring manager, unfortunately, this position is with a team that I rarely interact with and therefore, I would not have many insights to share, or I know who the hiring manager is. Sorry about that. In case you are interested in learning more about the company and our culture, why don’t you come to campus sometime in the next week or so and I would be pleased to meet you for coffee to share my insights.
I hope this helps. Looking forward to hearing from you.
Well – that’s when my chin dropped, please take a look at his reply:
Thank you. That’s too bad. I was hoping you would know more about this role as I know I am a perfect fit for it. I am not sure I could come to campus and meet you. Unfortunately, your work location is a bit far out which makes it difficult for me to go and meet you.
At this point I gave up. There was not going to be any more messages from me. That’s the story I wanted to share with you with hopes that no-one makes these same mistakes ever again. Here’s how it felt at my end. This person was only interested in being referred to the hiring manager, and it was not even willing to take the 44 bus to campus and meet me for coffee to do an informational interview. #entitled #poornetworking #really #pizzaorder #maketheplan #worktheplan #noshortcuts
The art of building relationships (aka networking) has to be genuine and building connections takes time and effort, don’t assume people will share job insights and connect you to a hiring manager if you have spent time getting to know them (and vice versa). Referring someone to a job is ‘serious business’, and it should only happen when we can really vouch for the person’s skills and fit within an organization, right?
When people are looking for the ‘transactional networking approach’ you may luck out here and there, but trust me when I say that in the long run you will find yourself isolated and alienating people.
Makes sense? What would you have done if you were in my shoes? Let me know via email to email@example.com. Also feel free to suggest other career-related topics you would like me to write about it next month.
Rodrigo | CoachRod