Why your business network isn’t helping you

By Scot Herrick | Business Networking

Nov 03

Business networking, in my opinion, is one of the keys to getting to employment security (instead of job security). With a large group of people in different companies as part of your network of support – and your support for them – you can find out about job opportunities and even have someone from your business network inside the company to recommend you for the job.

But the shocking secret about using social networks to find a job from Jennifer Gresham is this one: “Networking is actually a lousy way to find new hires.”

Heresy, of course. But…true.

Business networking requires follow through and execution

Kate and I moved back to Wisconsin relatively recently. One of the people in my business network, after offering this person a lead that would help that person’s business, said that they would introduce me to good friends of that person via e-mail as they were in a similar line of work. After I sent the e-mail introducing my person to the person I thought could help with some revenue, the response was crickets. Not only did I not get a thank you — which when you are offering potential income to someone is a no-brainer —  but I never got the introduction to the mystery couple living in my city who would be a great match for what I do.

So much for follow through and execution with your business network, thank you very much.

Or this in your corporate world

Jennifer’s experience, after recommending a person to a hiring manager — the absolute best possible recommendation you, as a job seeker, can get — had this happen:

Recently a friend of mine, let’s call him Bob, asked me if I could provide some mentoring to a young woman, let’s call her Linda, who was interested in a job as a government scientist.  I like and respect Bob, and I feel strongly about promoting women in science, so I happily agreed.

I took a look at Linda’s resume, and while it didn’t blow me away, she had some interesting experience advising the British consulate that helped her stand out from the typical applicant.  After talking to her on the phone for an hour and a half, I also thought she understood her own strengths and weaknesses pretty well.  My overall impression was positive, so I offered to connect her to some senior-level people in my network.

Warning bells went off when I sent out her “emails of introduction” and didn’t hear anything back.  Now, it’s not required to say thank you when someone introduces you to their network, but it’s obviously common courtesy.  I was mildly miffed, and a little concerned about her social skills, but let it go.

And then the worst happened. One of my contacts offered to give her a telephone interview and got silence in response.

This is tremendous effort on Jennifer’s part to place a person in front of the right person for a job. Getting an interview opportunity this way – whether it works out or not – is pure bonus in a job search. Yet, in the face of this huge opportunity, there were more crickets.

The less follow through, the smaller the number of people to recommend

You get a few of these happening in your business network and a perfectly logical decision gets made:

Unless I know someone really well, I’m not going to recommend them. Oh, I may pass their name on, but I’m not going out of my way to actually help them get the job.

Do you want to help yourself in your professional career? Do you want employment security instead of hoping for mere job security? Then actively follow through with your business network when you get requests and opportunities from them. Doing so will differentiate your work to such a great degree from others that you’ll be one of the very few people who your business network will recommend to a hiring manager. Not just give a name, but actively promote to a hiring manager.

Or, just be a flake. Nothing lost when I don’t recommend you for something, right?