Have You Made This Networking Mistake?

January 15, 2014

…………In 2014 you would have to live in a cave not to know that networking is critical to almost every aspect of your career. The message to develop potential business relationships pours out of everycareer website, book and magazine. Professionals know to network, but many don’t make use of their networking opportunities. It may be laziness, insecurity or a misunderstanding of how to network properly. But even though it may not be the easiest path to follow, it’s worthwhile to take the next step in developing your relationships.

I Threw Her a Lay Up
Recently I tried to help a job seeker in her 20’s who was unhappy where she was but didn’t know how to transition to another job. She worked in hospital administration for a group of anesthesiologists and her husband lived in another city three hours away. As soon as she told me her story, I told her I have the perfect contact for her. My husband’s sister ran a hospital in New Jersey, is now Chief Medical Officer of the Association of American Medical Colleges, happens to be an anesthesiologist, lives in the city where the woman’s husband works, and loves to help young woman professionals. “I’m sure she would be happy to talk to you and give you some career guidance,” I told her. The woman said thank you and continued to talk about how quirky her group of colleagues were. I mentioned my sister-in-law again but at the end of the conversation decided to let her ask me how to get in touch with her. She never did.

I couldn’t figure out why she didn’t pursue my offer. The young woman is, if anything, extraverted and didn’t seem like she would be intimidated by calling a senior professional in her field. Did she really not want to start looking, even though she told me she did? I figured with her new husband living in her parent’s basement, and her dissatisfaction with her job, she would be incented to make some kind of change. The only answer I came up with was that maybe she didn’t see an immediate benefit of meeting with the contact I provided her. If that was her thinking, she would be mistaken.

Networking is a long term game. It’s the unusual contact that leads to any immediate benefit, but it’s developing and renewing those contacts that will ultimately help you in your career. This particular situation struck me because the contact I offered was so ideal in many ways, and could have resulted in a job. But three similar situations happened recently where I offered job seeking professionals senior contacts in their industry and none of them followed through. Sure, making the contact would have taken some time and effort, and possibly taken these people out of their comfort zones, but developing those relationships could have helped further their careers.

Take Advantage

If an experienced business person suggests a contact, especially if it’s another experienced business person, it’s a good idea to follow-up. Even if the contact is in a completely different industry than you are targeting, hey- if you have the time, look her up. You never know who her sister-in-law is.