Be wary of those who wear the masks of master networkers. Don’t be overly impressed by important job titles, 500+ LinkedIn connections, thousands of Twitter followers and frequent appearances at networking events. None of these traits necessarily indicates that a person will be helpful to… you.
I tend to give all networkers, even the “master” networkers, the benefit the doubt. Over time, though, I’ve identified four traits of people who are least likely to be a useful connection. When you encounter any one of these traits, it’s time to move on to someone else in your network:
Even novice networkers know that the “offer” comes before the “ask.” When someone leads with an ask, don’t expect anything in return. These guys are more interested in taking rather than giving, and they are usually trying to sell you something. They are often not master networkers… they are master marketers with groupies.
The Follow-up Failure
If the promises are big and the connection is loose, don’t be surprised when the introductions never materialize. The bigger people talk, often the less substance they have to offer. Don’t be fooled by flash; instead look for subtle and quiet. Focus on humble confidence. And watch carefully for those who know and understand the art of following up, and those that don’t.
The Desperate Job Seeker
This is counter-intuitive to me. When you meet someone from the same industry or profession who is also looking for a job, two heads should be better than one, right? Who wouldn’t want someone to pass along leads and lend moral support? Who wouldn’t want an accountability partner? Unfortunately, I have not seen it work in real life – at least not with self-absorbed, desperate job hunters. They are not going to help you; they are Takers on steroids.
Professionals who are more concerned with hierarchy than results sometimes ascribe to the belief that everyone should claw their own way up the career ladder. You might hear them say, “That’s how I achieved my goals.” There are plenty of generous networkers who will graciously open doors for you. Forget the Old-Schooler; focus your efforts on like-minded people who understand the currency and language of influence.
In social media, we have a ever-present type of networker; the worst of them all. He counts his contacts like a kid obsessively counts coins in his piggy bank. What those coins can do when all pooled together doesn’t matter… only the number of coins. The bigger the pile, the better. Avoid these #followback clowns. Run away from those who care way to much about the number of followers they have. They can’t – they won’t – help you.
Some people, no matter how much you help them and no matter how many introductions you make on their behalf, will never help you. It just isn’t in them; it is not what drives them. Find the givers. Deliberately seek out those who care about something other than themselves, what they are selling, or their numbers. Your network, and your career, will thank you for it!
For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at Simply Hired!
About the Author: Amanda Marko sees the world as a connected place and is on a mission to reduce the number of degrees of separation between each person from six to five. Amanda’s employee engagement and change management consulting practice is complemented by storytelling work. She recently became one of only a handful of people globally – and the first in the U.S. – to partner with Australia-based Anecdote to deliver their Storytelling for Leaders program. The course and subsequent deliberate practice program has taught leaders from blue chip, global firms techniques to better influence, engage, and inspire others. Follow Amanda on Twitter.