Networking Faux Pas #2: THE DAMAGE DONE

SITUATION

My client Jack (not his real name) was a successful investment researcher with very strong technological capabilities. Jack wanted to refocus his career towards software business development.

A previous client, Roger (not his real name), had recently landed at a high growth software services firm. Roger was doing extremely well at this company and I knew he’d be willing to meet Jack.

I set up a virtual introduction and was thrilled to hear that Roger and Jack connected very quickly through email and were scheduled to meet.

Towards the end of the day of the alleged meeting, I sent Roger a quick email to see how the meeting went. Roger immediately responded and said, “Your client stood me up and didn’t even call. What kind of guy is this? I’m ticked off. Not a very good first impression.”

This didn’t seem like it made sense. I was confused and somewhat concerned. Giving him the benefit of the doubt, I called Jack to hear what happened. He didn’t answer his phone. I left a concerned message.

A few hours later Jack sent an email and said, “I’m fine. I just got tied up with driving my kids to school and couldn’t make it. I called and rescheduled and apologized – what more does he want?”

REPUTATION

I finally reached Jack live on the phone. He acted as if it was no big deal and he assumed everything was fine because he had rescheduled.

It turns out that Jack did call to reschedule, but he called a few hours after the scheduled time. Essentially Roger was correct – he DID get stood up!

I was furious. Not only did Jack lose all credibility with a person he hadn’t even met yet, but he had imposed a black mark against my reputation. Not good.

Could Jack recoup his losses? Not likely. His chance was gone.

Would I ever introduce him to another one of my contacts? No. Not because he couldn’t make it to the appointment – stuff happens. But Jack used very poor judgment in how he handled the situation from every angle.

SUGGESTION

Jack should have called Roger immediately upon realizing that he wasn’t going to be able to keep his commitment.

We all know what it’s like to juggle personal issues and business commitments. Sometimes we have to put our family first – everybody understands that. But letting Roger wait for several hours before contacting him was a major faux pas.

Not only did Jack seem inconsiderate and rude, but he put me in a very awkward position. On top of all this, he was flip and dismissive when asked about the situation.

First impressions stick like glue. Common courtesy and respecting others’ time seem simple enough, yet some highly experienced people can’t get it right.

Treat contacts like gold – for indeed, they are extremely valuable.

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Top Skill for Career Changers & Job Seekers

What is the most important skill to possess these days to maintain some sense of sanity?

Perspective.

Most of us have already experienced the bizarre nature of life, with its twists, turns, surprises, joys and lessons. What is the one thing that can keep us on an even keel through the ups and downs? Perspective.

This also holds true during a career transition or job search. If you can’t maintain a sense of perspective, you are in for a rather dramatic roller coaster ride and a strong possibility of losing your cool.

What is perspective? Here’s my take. It’s the ability (and propensity) to see the same situation through different lenses so as to provide some emotional distance from the issue at hand.

Why am I bringing this up now, you ask? While reading a guest blog on CAREEREALISM (@JT O’Donnell) I took note of a post by Colin Nanka.

Colin referred to a story about Ted Leonsis’ brush with death back in 1983 and how it transformed his life.

“Ted Leonsis, the owner of the Washington Capitals and an Internet multimillionaire, may seem like a guy who has it all. But he hasn’t done it all. When he survived a plane crash landing in 1983, he made a list of 101 things he wanted to do in life.”

At the time of the article, Ted had accomplished 78 things on his list and was still going strong.

Colin’s point was that many of us don’t take stock of our lives very often. (Of course we don’t – we’re ‘too busy’ or distracted most of the time)

If we want to be happier people and lead rich and fulfilling lives, it might behoove us to think about this more often. I like how Colin said it; “Many people meander through life, letting life blow them around like a leaf in the wind”.

If we have perspective, we can glide more easily through the difficult process of career transition, unemployment, or the ups and downs of a frustrating job search. Because in the scheme of things, just how life-altering is it that the CEO was rude to you or that you haven’t heard back from the biotech firm you interviewed with 10 days ago?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying the journey (career transition or life) is easy by any means. But keeping perspective let’s everything fall in its place in due time without as many deep bruises.

So the next time you feel slighted by that new contact that hasn’t returned your call, remind yourself that you have clean water to drink and air to breathe…and you probably heard the birds singing today.

One of the best methods of maintaining perspective is by focusing your energy on someone else who is in a tougher situation than you are. There are plenty of people out there that probably fit that bill.

And while you’re waiting for that recruiter to call you back, start writing a list of the 101 things you want to do in your life before you die.

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Breaking Thru Self Resistance

We are complicated creatures.

We want change in our lives, yet we often don’t take the actions needed to achieve that change. Do we see ourselves resisting? Not usually.

I am working with an interesting client, Trudy (not her real name). When I first met her, Trudy even fooled me into thinking that she was going to be pushing through the obstacles of career change like Michael Phelps through an olympic swimming pool.

Not so. Trudy is her own greatest resistance.

Trudy has a lot to offer. She is a natural leader, has great presentation skills, and is extremely self-motivated; except when it comes to her career transition.

She is stalling. Big time.

Fascinating.

Trudy came into my office last week almost in a haze. Out of ten action items we had agreed on, she attempted only one. She was very nonchalant about not taking any action. We talked for a while and then she said, “I’m just not making any progress. Why can’t I make this change happen?”

Hmmm. Interesting that Trudy doesn’t connect the dots that she might not be succeeding because she hasn’t done anything about it. In her mind, she has been extremely busy and therefore she should be getting offers.

The problem is that Trudy is busy with everything else except her career. She has been harried and running errands for everyone in her family for the past six weeks – always putting off her own calling.

We had a heart to heart discussion. It’s time to address the fears and insecurities and decide to either work through them or give up.

What could Trudy be afraid of? Hmm. Failure? Success? Getting rejected? How her husband might feel if she makes more money than he does?… how her 25 year old son might feel if Trudy isn’t always at his beckon call?…

(We can think of a thousand excuses to sabotage ourselves.)

You can keep yourself crazy busy running with miscellaneous activities, or you can get down to the business of moving your life forward.

In Herminia Ibarra’s book, Working Identity: Unconventional Strategies for Reinventing Your Career, she states that sometimes you need to slow down and step back. You can’t live in between two worlds – it’s stressful there. It takes more energy to have one foot in the boat and one on the shore, than to get in or out.

Which is it?