How NOT to network in 2011

1 01 2011

Since so many people have “I will do more networking this year” on their New Year’s resolutions lists, I had to share this:

Here is an example of something I categorize as “leveraging the useless.” I’m also including my explanation of why this type of communication is useless to the sender as well as the receiver. The names have been changed to protect the innocent clueless.Clueless Networking

This message came from someone I’ve never met, referencing someone I barely know, and requesting an intro to someone fairly close to me, as well as someone I protect from inquiries just like this (as she does for me).  This message came into my LinkedIn messages Inbox.

On 11/28/10 3:49 PM, David Paul wrote:
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Sandy,

I just had coffee with Wayne Lunky today as a followup from a seminar he did at his church on job search tips.

He highly recommended your book – ‘I’m at a Networking Event – Now What???’ to me.

I was wondering if you could introduce me to Mary Lorenzo at Expedia so I could learn more about the ‘Business Development’ opportunities they have.

Thank you for your help,

David Paul

——————–

That’s it?! Oh, sure. Let’s imagine what he thinks I should do on his behalf:

Call or email my contact and say, “Hey Mary, I don’t know this person, I barely know the person he referenced, but he apparently wants me to ask you to make time to talk to him about whatever opportunities might exist at your company in an area you have nothing to do with. Is it OK if I give him all your contact info? Oh, and since he’s acquainted with the guy I barely know via something at his church, he must be OK and totally worthy of your referring him into your company for a job and associating yourself with him.”

REALLY?! What I want to know is who is advising people to “network” this way? (He certainly did NOT read MY book!) There are so many things wrong with this I’ll get a headache if I have to go through them, so I’ll just go with the most basic:

The definition of the word “network” according to The Oxford Dictionary is:

nétwerk n. & v. a group of people who exchange information, contacts, and experience for professional or social purposes.

We can then define networking as one’s efforts to create a group, and the key word in the above definition is EXCHANGE.

So, if you’re doing the “ask,” and there’s not even an attempt to at least offer an exchange of some type of future assistance, it’s definitely best to find another way to get to a very distant connection’s contact.

Please feel free to share this post wherever you think it might be seen by people who need this basic business savvy info. Thank you!

Additional note: Even The Onion has something to say about what they refer to as “nonconcensual networking.” CLICK HERE for a chuckle.
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