Are You A Transactional Networker?
From Career Tips, 2016 Volume 9, September 2016
I met some interesting people at a networking event a couple of weeks back. One had a good sense of humor, seemed warm and smart, and well-connected.
We clicked, and I reached out to connect over LinkedIn afterwards. He did as well, so I felt like we were in synch; after all, great minds think alike! And his invitation hit the right notes (for me) - it was warm, humorous, and gave a clear picture of ways he could help people.
Then I suggested getting together for coffee, which would seem natural and convenient, since we both work in the same town. I got this response:
"I'm a bit douchey when it comes to having coffee just for the sake of coffee. But if there's something specific you'd like to chat about or you'd like to talk about growing your business, let's do it."
I like to work with people I know, like and trust. And to get to that point, I need to take a little time to get the measure of the person. His note seemed to me to reduce this relationship-building stage to a business transaction, which creates a pretty strong barrier for me to ever reach the know-like-trust point.
Now maybe I'm reading him incorrectly, or perhaps he is incredibly busy and has all of the clients and connections he can currently use, but I immediately lost interest in pursuing the connection further.
I see this happening all too often, when people have these attitudes:
- "I went to 2 meetings of this business group, but got no concrete business leads, so I'm going to look for a new group."
- "I'm going to this networking function and plan to hand out as many business cards as possible."
- "My goal for this event is to meet everyone."
- "When I have 1-on-1 meetings, I always ask whether their company is hiring, or whether they know anyone who is hiring."
If you're too focused on 'what I need to get' from networking, you tend to miss the first stage - building the know-like-trust factor. You can't get the 'transactions' unless you first build the relationship.
This often is a huge barrier for job seekers.
They are so worried about their goal (getting a job), that their networking tends to be transactional oriented. They want to talk only to people who they feel 'can help them', and then in those meetings want to be sure they find out about openings, ask for connections to hiring managers, etc.
The best approach is to focus heavily on building the know-like-trust factor, and let the other items arise organically from that.
After all, if I know of jobs that might fit you, or have connections I think would be valuable to you, once I know, like and trust you, I will naturally share those. But if I haven't reached that point, asking me still won't get you them. So if those aren't forthcoming naturally from your conversations, go back to the first part and build your skills in that area!