Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Networking's Irony

Networking's "rule:" Give before asking. But I've had countless clients give and give, yet when they ask, they get zip.

For example, today, I had a client, Eric, who's been unemployed for two years and, has followed the standard exhortations to--before asking for a job lead--give generously to a good-sized network of people with the potential to offer a lead. But when Eric finally asked, and asked, and asked, no one gave him squat.

Frankly, I understand. Eric's self-esteem is too high--he's a pretty dim bulb but fancies himself as someone who shouldn't have to sell insurance any more--that because he's a caring, supportive guy, he should be hireable as a manager. Even if he offered to take me out to lunch, sent me interesting articles, offered to teach me bowling, etc., if I felt he wasn't fully qualified for a job, I wouldn't give him a job lead.

What did I tell Eric? Keep giving, albeit only when you feel you want to give without any expectation of return--it's the right way to live life. And ask yourself, "If none of those many people to whom you've been so giving has offered you a job lead, perhaps you need to identify a new job target they'd feel more comfortable referring you for.

Ironically, the people who most need their network's help are the least likely to get it.


Anonymous said...

One-sided giving gets old. I believe it exists because people are basically selfish. More so on the East and West Coasts.

Anonymous said...

I've found that people want to help, but won't do it if they think I'm on the wrong track. That's useful feedback, since what I want isn't necessarily what is suitable for me.

F.S. said...

Wow, I hope Eric doesn't read your blog!

CJ Bowker said...

Somebody has to tell Eric the truth. Tell him why he is not referable. Then he can either change his expectations or his referability. He'll have a choice if people are honest with him.

Nigel said...

Two thoughts.

Firstly, he needs to remember that networking is not merely relying on contacts to whom we are close, hoping that they in turn will know somebody who knows somebody who will want what we have to offer.

Nor is it simply try to make as many new contacts as possible in the hope that one in a hundred will pay off.

Instead, he should be looking instead for structural holes in networks, areas in which we are clearly qualified to add value.

Secondly, it is highly likely that in order to position ourselves to add value, we will be relying on weak ties – contacts who know us little or even not at all – to make introductions and to convey messages. By definition weak ties offer little in the way of closure, and therefore the messages we send across these links must be Robust and Sticky.

For more detail see http://rusdens.com/2010/05/networking-for-career-success/


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