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October 19, 2016

How Not to Network

How Not to NetworkNetworking is easy — except when you make it hard on yourself.

Last month I ran into a medical device executive I’ve known for a couple of years (let’s call him Peter). He’s considering a job change and a couple months earlier asked me for a few referrals.

“How’d it got with those introductions?” I asked.

“I never got in touch with them,” he replied. “I’ve been so busy.”

I was mildly annoyed. He’d asked for introductions with a sense of urgency. I guess it wasn’t that urgent after all.

Job seekers, and everyone else who has occasion to ask for a professional introduction, take note.

When you ask for a referral, you are asking someone to take time and expend relationship equity with the individuals you want to meet. It’s not a big deal, but it’s not trivial, either.

Asking for a referral and then not following up is a cardinal sin. You’ve wasted the time and goodwill of the person from whom you requested the favor. You can only make that mistake once, because you won’t get help a second time.

I’m sure Peter will be back with another request. But next time, I won’t be nearly so eager to help.

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