Friday, October 12, 2007

The Five Most Annoying Networking Behaviors

Although I had been introduced to Thom Singer this summer, he and I didn't really have a chance to sit down and chat until recently. And, boy, did we talk. Seems we've both got some pet peeves when it comes to people who are pretty obnoxious when it comes to networking.

Since Singer is a networking guru, and a lot of people listen to him and benefit from his advice, I thought it would be nice to list at least five of the most annoying things people do when they network and how Singer believes they could improve:

1. Don't dive bomb. Don't swoop down on us at events, shove a business card in our hand, shoot the bull for five minutes and then expect us to be best buddies. "You don't propose on the first date, do you?" Singer points out. "We've got to get to know each other first -- share some experiences."
2. Stop being a greedy grabber. In the world of networking, little things mean a lot. Send us a follow-up note, a word of thanks, just something to show meeting us mattered to you. Then, let's hook up seven to 10 times before you even think about getting something in return. The rule of thumb: you have to give three times more than you want.
3. Social spamming sucks. Just because we met you once or twice briefly doesn't mean we want to connect with you through LinkedIn or some other social networking site. No offense, but we don't really know you, so how can we trust you? Putting our professional necks on the line for an acquaintance makes us uncomfortable.
4. Don't be snotty. If we choose not to connect with you -- either by ignoring or turning down your LinkedIn request, or not returning calls or returning e-mails, just let it go. Nothing personal, it's just that we've already got what we need in our network.
5. Stop whining. Just because you tried networking a few times and it didn't work does not mean you should just give up and complain how networking is worthless. You owe it to your company to get out there and look for opportunities and people who are willing to help. Examine your past forays into networking and find ways to improve. Don't wait for the other person to make the first move -- stop being such a Debbie Downer and go for it.


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Monday, October 1, 2007

LinkedIn Sparks Ongoing Debate

Thom Singer has a rant going about the problems with some people wanting to make a connection to him through LinkedIn when he really doesn’t know them very well. It seems someone got a bit snippy at Singer’s connection rules, and fired off a less-than-professional e-mail to him.

That’s got a lot of people discussing how social networking fits into the networking rules of the workplace. Singer has asked other bloggers to weigh in, and after giving it some consideration, here are some of my thoughts:

1. Would I recommend you for a job? I don’t link to you unless I’ve worked with you in some way or know you personally and feel good about the experience. I don’t want anyone calling me about your work and saying, “What are this person’s strengths?” and I say, “Gee…I dunno.” That makes me look bad, and that’s not what networking is about. It’s supposed to be a win-win for everyone. So, if I don’t connect with you, it’s nothing personal – it’s just that we need more time to get to know one another.

2. Do I think you’re headed in the right direction? If I see someone connecting to a lot of people really fast, throwing invitations out like confetti on New Year’s Eve in Times Square, I hang back. It makes me a bit nervous to see someone collecting connections like they’re Pokeman cards. Those links seem a bit too rushed, and the lack of solid foundation concerns me. It’s sort of like social spamming.

3. Are you doing your homework? If you have no real understanding of what I do and how I do it, then I ignore you. Again, nothing personal, but I’m not into connecting with you if you’re not willing to take the time to get to know me, and help me get to know you. Lazy linkers will always move on to the next person, and that's fine with me.

Finally, I really consider myself a sort of gatekeeper for the other people in my network. They see me as someone they trust, and I don't want to betray that by trust by letting someone in that I really don't know. But, hey, once I get to know you and we connect in an honest way,then welcome to the party, pal.

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