How To Abuse Your Network

Someone recently asked me to contact a close friend who is an executive at an industry-leading company.  They wanted to connect my friend with an acquaintance who had applied for a job at the company.  Connect is the politically correct word.  They really wanted to contact my friend and request a recommendation/referral.  If you are following the bouncing ball, I would be connecting my friend with a stranger twice removed.  It would be like the third cousin of your absentee father showing up unannounced for dinner. 

Since I believe you always help someone looking for work, I took the person’s information. I passed it along to my friend with a simple, “if this person appears on your radar, they were recommended to me by John Doe”.  Giving a stranger my friend’s contact information would have been inappropriate and a breach of trust.

With Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. we have an opportunity to be inappropriate on a regular basis.  Here are some tips on how to abuse your personal and professional network.

  • Connect under false pretenses. Don’t join the Atlanta Lawyers LinkedIn group because you are a stockbroker and you believe lawyers have lots of money (some of us don’t).
  • Get Overly Aggressive. Most of us have something to sell, but buy me dinner before you kiss me. You should not simple view your network as a database of potential clients.  People remember how you treat them, not what you sold them.  If your connection turns into a business relationship that’s great, but don’t send me a proposal two hours after meeting me at the Chamber of Commerce luncheon.
  • Name Drop. I hate to break it to you, but if your friend is the Global Marketing Chief of ABC Corp. they know lots of people all over the world – not just you.  Keep name dropping and someone will soon ask you to back it up with an introduction, favor, etc.
  • Share Incorrectly. The whole point of networking is to make a real and lasting connection with someone.  It won’t last long if you share my name with your network marketing friends.  Respect my time and privacy.  If I want to make an extra $10,000 per month in my spare time I will call you.
  • Have No Social Media Etiquette. Although I have a Facebook business page, I don’t use it much because you are subjected to the ranting and ravings of anyone you are “friends” with. Connecting with someone on social media is an honor that should not be abused. I just read an article on LinkedIn full of the “F” word.  In fact, the “F” word was in the title.  It was a well-written, serious article about the workplace.  I did not share that article.   I am certain that many of my connections would have found it offensive.

There is an old medical quote “take care of your feet and your feet will take care of you”, but feet really have nothing to do with this article so “take care of your network and your network will take care of you”.

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