Job Search Tip: Network Thoughtfully

Sometimes people just do not understand what networking is about–or not about, as the case might be. If you abuse the process, you will probably pay the penalty and not reap the rewards you can gain from thoughtful networking…that is, networking that respects the rights and time of others. A post I read recently on Tim Mushey’s blog (Sell-Lead-Succeed) has some very pertinent points to make about this concept.

Un-Thoughtful Networking on LinkedIn

Tim had a frustrating and unpleasant experience with someone who connected with him on LinkedIn and then stepped far over the line into inappropriate territory to take advantage of that connection. Here’s just a little of what Tim had to say about the situation in his blog:

“Unfortunately LinkedIn does not have a ‘disconnect’ button, where you can ‘relieve yourself of the burden’ of networking with somebody who just does not get it! You can remove a connection, but it takes some work….Would you try to sell somebody your products and services from the moment that you met them in person? I would hope not! So why should it be ok online?

“Network ‘virtually’ like you would ‘personally.’ Show up, be responsive and care about your connections. The last thing you want is for people to…’disconnect’ with you soon after accepting your requests.”

How to Network Thoughtfully in Job Search Mode

First, do your homework! Determine whether there’s the potential for a mutually beneficial relationship before you invite someone to connect on LinkedIn (or Twitter or….). If you’re a big-time network builder (LION, on LinkedIn, for example), you might not stop with this criterion, but I think it’s a good one to begin with. In other words: Is there at least the potential for you to give as well as get at some point? If not, why should that person want to connect–and stay connected–with you?

Second, understand that “remoteness” (electronic rather than in-person contact) does not excuse pushiness, self-centered and relentless pursuit, or just general bad manners. No one deserves to be disrespected like that, remotely or otherwise. We used to have a sign in the break room at a company where I worked that read: “Your mother doesn’t work here. Clean up after yourself.”

The implication was, of course, that you were expected to take care of things appropriately and not put the burden of that onto someone who wasn’t responsible for your behavior. You should, in fact, behave as if your mother were looking over your shoulder and saying, “Oh, you shouldn’t do that–THIS is what you should do”!

Third, express appreciation for any help, ideas, etc., that your new connection shares with you. We all like to be valued when we make an effort to contribute something. Even if you can’t use a suggestion now, for instance, you can say “thank you very much” and file it under maybe-I-can-use-this-later.

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