Professional Networking Secrets: “Here is Your Insult . . . Would You Like a Slap in the Face with That?”Tuesday, January 24th, 2012
I truly understand that in today’s world of instant information it’s very easy to become overwhelmed and maybe a little callous. Kind of like giving a hard time to telemarketers that call our homes around dinner time. It is easy to forget it is a human being just trying to make a living on the other end of the line. Perhaps someone’s son or daughter trying to pay their way through college.
A long time ago I decided I was going to do everything I could to be NICE—REALLY nice, to everyone I spoke with—no matter what the circumstances and whether I knew them or not.
Because in my career, I have been on the other end of the stick many times.
And something that just happened to me this morning REMINDED me of my commitment and how important it is for us all to be gracious when we network.
But first let’s go waaayyy back to my days as an executive recruiter. As a job seeker, you will bend over backward to have a good conversation with a recruiter right? Well as a recruiter who continuously had to cold call and have conversations with employed executives—sometimes my call would elicit hostility. Executives would tell me “DON’T CALL ME AGAIN!” or would grill me “HOW DID YOU GET MY NUMBER?!” or, “I AM NOT INTERESTED IN ANY OF YOUR JOBS!!”
It always amazed me. And often a year or two later many of those executives would call me for help because they found themselves in a job search. You can imagine how “eager” I was to help place them with one of my beloved client companies.
Which leads me to this morning’s incident. Interestingly, a recruiter had requested to connect with me on LinkedIn—which I accepted. I always send follow up email to my new connections to thank them for reaching out to connect and I invite them to sign up for my free newsletter. This particular recruiter emailed me back and said “TAKE ME OFF YOUR LIST IMMEDIATELY!” I decided to personally email her back and explain she was a connection, and I had simply invited her to sign up for my e-zine with a link.
Here is what my new LinkedIn connection wrote back: “LET ME REPHRASE: DON’T SEND ME ANY MORE EMAILS!!”
I promptly removed this recruiter from my LinkedIn connections.
This is a PERFECT example of what we should never, ever do. As we network, we simply can’t afford to be rude or mean. So . . . here are some networking tips I have found very useful that I would like to share with you:
- In your career, strive to be nice to EVERYBODY no matter their station or basis of relationship. You just never know when the tables may turn and who wants to spread bad energy around?
- If you must say NO to somebody, do so as graciously and professionally as possible.
- If someone or something around you is negative, cut off communication, if possible. Leaders and professionals who are serious about their careers protect their inner circle and filter the information they “let in.”
- When networking, think: “How can I help?” If you will always lead with thinking about the other person, you will be showing them honor and respect and they will repay you naturally in kind. Long term, this is the true core of networking. It doesn’t matter if your connection is in person, on LinkedIn, Facebook, or phone . . . strive for consistency in all you do.
- If someone you are talking to is rude or negative—do not get defensive. This includes all the things that can potentially happen to you in a job search such as someone promising they will call you, or invite you back for an interview, but never do.
- Find a mentor who holds a high visibility position—one whose personality you admire—and then emulate them. If you are lucky enough to know several executive mentors, you will start to see a pattern. Leaders/Mentors generally have a certain likeability . . . a charisma, if you will, for various reasons—some are attractive because they are fair and do the right thing, others because they want to foster the potential in you, and still others because they are warm and kind.
- Whomever you are speaking to, try to find a positive thing about that person that you can complement him or her on. Whenever I have the opportunity to speak to someone new, I LOVE figuring out what that one thing is that I can compliment them on. Sometimes it is their photo, other times it is something about their voice, their personality, or their career. This becomes a good habit and you will find yourself focusing on the positive more versus the negative in your daily dealings with others.
- If you make a practice of focusing on and helping others, at some point you may feel used or that you have not gotten back what you have put in. This goes with the territory. Don’t let it deter you from your course to develop a good reputation, overall virtue, and will ultimately make you a better person.
I feel fortunate that I have been humbled by the above types of experiences over the years because it gives me an excuse to take a bad thing and turn it around to reflect something positive. I hope you can take one thing from the list above and share the love.