Here’s why last minute networking doesn’t work
Last minute networking doesn’t work, so here our some of our best tips on how to keep up with your network on a more regular basis.
The quote from JFK advises us not to try to fix our roof when it’s raining. What does that mean? It should be obvious but many don’t get it. It means that we should do everything we need to do before it becomes urgent and rain is pouring into our houses. This applies to pretty much everything, but especially networking. There is nothing more frustrating than hearing from someone you haven’t seen for years asking for a favour. Or perhaps asking to meet for coffee and then asking for a favour. Last minute networking doesn’t work because it is transactional and lacks any real and genuine connection.
“Kindness … it’s free. What’s to lose?” suggests Pamela Palmer, US based talent acquisition specialist. But not everyone agrees.
Marjorie recounted an incident that happened to her recently. “An old connection out of the blue emailed to ask for a catch up Zoom call. I hadn’t seen her or heard from her for maybe 10 years. It transpired that she was leaving her job to become a freelancer and wanted to pick up where we had left off. I actually agreed to the call but she failed to show up. I ignored her second email.”
Daria, a high profile media coach, recounted an incident when someone she worked with fleetingly, five years ago on a joint podcast, asked for a recommendation on LinkedIn. “This was to beef-up her profile before launching a TEDx talk. Our connection even at the time was very tenuous. She did the bare minimum on our joint project and never contacted me again. I thought it was a bit desperate.”
Sarah Johnston sees things differently. “I don’t mind when someone I haven’t talked to in a while reaches out for help. I’ve moved a lot in adulthood and just because we don’t see each other now, it doesn’t mean that the time we spent together 10+ years ago wasn’t a special time. I also know that it takes a lot of courage to ask for help! A genuine thank you is a great way to show appreciation.”
Keith Berman agrees. “The more people we interact with, the larger our network becomes, and the harder it gets to maintain relationships with everyone in our network. In fact, that alone could be a full-time job. A genuine request along with some personal flavor goes a long way with me… I’m happy to help if they made the effort to reach out and catch up a little in a personal communication. But if all they do is contact me with that request for help — or, worse, a generic LinkedIn request for a referral because they hit the button to generate the automated message without making any effort — then, no. I’m not inclined to put in work on their behalf if they’re not willing to do the same.”
“Also, if they acknowledge the reality, ie they haven’t been in touch until they needed something, I’m more likely to want to help.” says Dawn Metcalfe.
We’ve all got time to network. Don’t believe us? Try our Daily LinkedIn routine for today’s super busy women.
The importance of maintaining your network
Maintaining a network gets harder as we all get busier and our reach widens. It’s always important to closely maintain your top 10 strategic network connections with whom you you are in regular contact. These key connections will vary from person to person
How you build up and maintain your network will depend on age, your level of experience and the type of professional activity you have. Your personality and career goals are of course also crucial factors. It’s not important what your strategy is – just that you have one and it works for you. And it should be effective and support your main goals, rather than be a time consuming end itself. It’s not about building up numbers for their own sakes.
Last minute networking doesn’t work. But if you follow these basic tips, it’s not something you will need to do.
Try to connect to people who are well-connected in your areas of special interest.
Established and/or senior connections and allies-
Look to connect with some people who are already established in their field,or holding senior positions in their organisations. A quiet word from them in the appropriate ear can carry a lot of weight. If you are in any organisation, these are key contacts. Especially if you are junior and they will act as a mentor, or better still be a sponsor and advocate for you.
These are people doing what you do and can understand any major issues you might have. They might be good contacts to confide in, but be cautious also. You may end up competing against them for work, a contract or even a job.
Sector connections and out of sector connections-
This is about staying up to date and building diverse networks.
Do you need connections locally or further afield? If you have thoughts about international assignements, think ahead.
If needed, who will be your go-to “connector”? The super networker, the person who knows everyone.
Contacts based in the places where you spend most of your time. There is no substitute for dealing with people face to face – especially if they are just down the road.
Unless we are all-singing and all-dancing, all of the time, we cannot do without the specialists. Their passion and skill makes what they do invaluable. Whether this is the web designer, presentation expert, DIY fiends or even a walking restaurant directory, we always need specialists in our network.
Some people like to be totally up to the minute, and they save us all a lot of time researching current events and developments. Do you want to know something obscure? Then these are your go-to people. We all need a few of those fabulous time-savers in our midst!
We all need to have fun and very often people we know socially have the most surprising connections. Some are just plain likeable!
If you’ve been out of the loop for a while, networking can seem daunting. We can help with our Returners Session- Getting back on the networking horse.
How to stay in touch with a wider network
Social media is brilliant for this. Here are some of our tips:
- Send them an article or news about something you know is important to them.
- Update them on those things where you share a common interest.
- Like, comment or share something they posted on social media.
- Leave a WhatsApp voice message to say hi.
- Tag them in a tweet, Facebook or Instagram update.
- Zoom call.
Joe Jacobi had a great idea. “For staying in touch, one idea related to the ask is that if know or see content created or shared by someone else that relates to the ask, you could tag the friend you haven’t heard from in a long time.”
Last minute networking doesn’t work for many reasons – but the most important one is people feel used. Let your contacts know that you appreciate the time they spend with you, as well as their knowledge and opinions. If someone has been especially helpful to you, offer to take them out for coffee or lunch. Remember important details about them their work, or even their families. It’s the small things that make people feel valued.
3Plus network responds
We asked some of the 3Plus network about their thoughts and this is how they responded if someone contacted them out of the blue.
Annabel Kaye, Managing Director of Irenicon, said “It depends. Some people make what feel like demands out of the blue for me to support causes or promote products I have no connection to or sympathy for. Others want me to buy things I have no need of. If it is something I want to do and can do then I sometimes do. But I am more likely to take action if it is someone I have some kind of contact with, even just the odd like on a regular basis.
Hannah Morgan aka Career Sherpa suggests “I have mixed emotions when someone reaches out and asks for a favor. Happy that they thought of me, but sad because I feel used. Relationships are two way. I would hope they would attempt to re-establish the relationship before asking for a favor.”
Jacqui Barret Poindexter adds; “I think the bottom line for me is that people be okay with not getting a ‘yes’ to their ask; vs. getting hurt ‘feelings.’ We are all very focused and must keep our eyes on where we have focused our goals and commitments, both personally and profesionally.”
I leave the words of Andy Campbell to close. “Simple rule. Always be nice to nice people 😀”
A big thank you to all of those who added to a rich discussion: You can see the discussion here:
Andy Foote, Virginia Franco, Meg Guiseppi, Hannah Morgan, Jayaram Vengayil, Cynthia Campbell, Kevin Turner, Carrie Eddins, Maureen Wilke, Yasmina Khelifi, Ryan C., Carol Evanoff, Abdul Aziz Mohammed, Samuel G., Gerry Crispin, Adam Rose, Jordan Barta, Debra Feldman, Jenny Garrett and Megan Jones.
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