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Liz Ryan Headshot

That's Definitely Not Networking

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I love to meet new people -- love it love it love it. Ninety-six or ninety-seven percent of the time, I meet a new person and I leave the coffee shop glowing, because the new person is fun and cool and lively.

Three or four percent of the time I leave the coffee shop saying "That was an hour? It felt like six months in the prison from "Midnight Express."

There are networkers, and power networkers, and people who should never be allowed to meet unsuspecting new people in coffee shops.

Here are ten things that are not, never have been and never will be networking:

  1. Writing to a stranger to say "I read about [your new job/your promotion/your blog] in the paper -- let's talk about ways to collaborate. Here are six of my articles for you to read, then call me!"
  2. Meeting a new person at a networking event and saying "Say, you should come over to my office [thirty miles away from your office] so we can talk and learn more about each other. We have a conference room and coffee!"
  3. Writing to an unsuspecting employed person through LinkedIn to say "Do you know which hiring manager in your company is in charge of hiring Purchasing Agents?"
  4. Sending out marketing blasts en masse via Facebook.
  5. Spamming every person you ever met in your life with your appeal for sponsorship for your Walk or Run or Bike Ride or Canoe Race.
  6. Writing to someone with a note saying "We met at a networking event last year and I just found your card. I wasn't job-hunting then but I am now and I'd love to get together and get your advice since you work in the same field. How about next Thursday?"
  7. Going to a networking lunch or coffee with a person who didn't know you from Adam before you made the outreach, and saying "I know we're both busy, so let's get down to business. I need you to [introduce me to the most important person you know/critique my resume/read my business plan]."
  8. Calling a person you haven't talk to in seven years to say "Doesn't your sister work at Acme Dynamite? I'm job-hunting and saw a good job there. Can you ask her to recommend me?"
  9. Friending a very slight acquaintance on Facebook and then suggesting forty-five groups they need to join and sixty applications they can't live without.
  10. Bushwhacking an ostensibly social conversation for biz-dev purposes, like the young woman who called me up and suggested coffee to talk about her career -- only to spring a not-to-be-missed business opportunity on me in mid-cup of coffee. (I bailed, using an imaginary next appointment as an excuse. I know the universe will forgive me.)