Faux Pas #1 – Networking

Reputation is everything. We hear that over and over. It’s true. Yet there are certain behaviors that many of us are guilty of that tarnish our reputation. They seem like small things, but they’re not.

Take networking. Most of us know it’s crucial to a career, yet some people still don’t take it seriously.

Several people have blown my mind lately with their lackadaisical (and sometimes oblivious) approach to networking, especially if they are looking for a new position.

Let’s keep it simple. I’ll be writing about a series of faux pas’ over the next several weeks. Which faux pas have you committed lately? Here’s the first.

Faux Pas #1

SITUATION: You’ve had a tough few weeks. You’ve been on the job hunt for a few months with no progress – everything seems to have come to a screeching halt. Your good friend (Darren) is concerned, and emails a contact (Sarah) and asks if she will meet with you. Sarah has known Darren for a long time, so of course she says, “Sure”.

Darren initiates a virtual introduction through email. He feels good because this may get some momentum going for you. After all, Sarah is VP of Marketing for a global consumer goods company, and you are looking for a Director of Marketing role. She may be able to put you in touch with other people.

Darren sees Sarah at a party a couple of weeks later. She says, ‘Hey, I never heard from your friend, what’s up?’ Darren is caught off guard. “Gee, I thought he would have contacted you already, sorry about that.”

“No worries”, Sarah says, “I’m swamped at work anyway and I’m leaving for a business trip. I’ll be gone for a few weeks.”

REPUTATION: Alrighty then! Darren feels like a jerk after asking Sarah to do him a favor, and Sarah thinks you’re not really serious about your job search anyway so it’s no big deal to her. She’s got more important things to worry about.

You see Darren later the following week. He asks why you didn’t contact Sarah and you say, ‘Oh, I forgot all about it. I just haven’t gotten to it yet – too busy. Dam, I feel like I’m never going to land a job this time.’ Darren SAYS ‘No problem’, but what is he really thinking?

He’s THINKING, “How could you complain about not landing a job when you didn’t even take me up on a sure thing to meet with Sarah? I’ve know her for years and she is always willing to help. I try not to ask her for too many favors because I know she travels a lot and is under a lot of pressure at work. That’s the last time I hook you up with one of my contacts- you’re on your own.”

Oh, and Sarah? She found out just before she left for her business trip that her company just put a requisition in for a Marketing Director in a sister division. What do you think the chances are that she’ll tell Darren to let you know?

SUGGESTION: If someone sets you up through a direct introduction to network with someone from their circle, have the good sense and common courtesy to follow up within 48 hours. If you decide you aren’t going to follow up quickly, for god’s sake – inform your original contact!!

There may be hidden reasons why you didn’t follow up with Sarah quickly. If you are introverted, you may just need some time to prepare and muster up the emotional energy to meet with someone when you are already stressed. Still no excuse not to communicate appropriately with your original contact and save your reputation.

Note: @Wendy Gelberg wrote a book on the Introvert’s  job search… an article  in Forbes quotes her,

http://tinyurl.com/dbudct


Twitter for Boomer Skeptics

Eight weeks ago it was very cold in Boston and I didn’t know what the heck Twitter was.

If a client asked me whether Twitter was important for his/her career my answer was ‘no, just use LinkedIn’. What value would there be in using a tool where kids tweet about having scones for breakfast?

I’ve done a 180 degree turn since then.  There was so much buzz about Twitter that I realized I needed to get with the program. Besides, I was extremely curious. Every day I heard references to the tremendous growth of social media among boomers and I wanted to be involved – I had to be involved.

Fast forward to today. I tell everyone to get on it right now, get familiar with it and use it to help build your online reputation.

Did I just say that? Three months ago I actually thought  Twitter was absurd. Now I can’t get enough of it. It’s all about information, relationships and engagement. Let me repeat. It’s all about information, relationships and engagement. Starting to get the picture?

If you aren’t participating in new media, you are at a (huge) disadvantage in your career. If you don’t know the lingo – you run the risk of being viewed as a dinosaur. (and it might be true)

You might find Twitter a bit overwhelming at first – I did. Let the process take you for a ride, relax and have fun.

Here are five simple steps to get started.

1. Jump in and begin. Trust me on this. Don’t analyze it beforehand. Just get on it.

2. Read Joel Comm’s book entitled “Twitter Power”. Before I read it, I would log in and stare at the screen like a deer in headlights. “Twitter Power” gets to the point and gives it context. It gave me a jump start.

3. Talk about it with other people. Sharing info and asking questions speeds up the learning process.

4. Remember the big picture. Twitter is one tool in creating an online reputation. A website and a blog go hand in hand with social media, but that will come later, just think about how you want to be perceived.

5. Be generous in sharing information and be kind with your words. It’s still easier to attract bees with honey rather than vinegar.

I’m still learning and having a great time. Write to me and tell me what you think.

Follow me at http://twitter.com/WorkIntegrity