When people say that networking doesn’t work, they usually cite as evidence the fact that they have invested in others in the past without any reciprocity from the other side. When I inquire specifically, How did you arm them with the appropriate context to introduce or recommend you? The answer is often a blank stare.
Here is an example of a Business Relationship Don’t: I recently received a voicemail to the effect of: “David, this is Joe Blank, friend of John Nobody (whose name I honestly did not recognize at first and later recalled that I didn’t care for him at all). I was wondering if you could meet me on XYZ dates and times and let me pick your brain for some of your contacts in my current job search. John says you know everyone in town.” You can’t make this stuff up.
I continue to wonder, What was he thinking? What in that voicemail could possibly propel me to take action? Nonetheless, acting on a favorite grandmother’s advice to always be nice, I return Joe Blank’s call to inquire about his job search. “Well, I’m looking for a VP of sales role,” he declares. “I have been selling for 40-plus years and can’t possibly imagine a job out there that I couldn’t do.”
I asked him about possible target industries, size, or types of companies, or relevant background and applicable strengths. With each of these inquiries, I consistently felt that he was making me draw this information out of him.
Because Joe Blank was not forthcoming in discussing his situation, I wasn’t able to help him in the manner that he had hoped. He essentially wanted the return on his investment – without having to make any investment.
We can easily distinguish between the “Joe Blank” approach of looking for a handout, versus the style of trying to figure out a way to become an asset in the best practice that follows. In this process, if you can get to know me, understand my business, and what my challenges are, you can uncover ways to help me. And when you do, my next logical question will be how can I help you. That’s when you can tell me that you are in transition and looking for a VP of sales position.
Arm people with the appropriate information they need to help you. It is critical not to leave this to chance. Come to the table prepared with a systematic game plan that explains how we can become as asset to each other!
How well do a group of individuals work well together in a team-based environment? Take our Free Relationship DNA assessment to identify the team attributes in one of four quadrants with a high level profile and a set of recommendations.