Friday, June 5, 2009

"Networking" Isn't Only Good For 78 Points On A Triple Word Score*

I had a couple of interesting coffee meetings with some PR people yesterday, and one of the conversations revolved around networking, something that should be in the Top 3 of any professional's arsenal when trying to win some new business.

The crux of the matter is that sites such as LinkedIn make it ultra-easy to connect with new -- and reconnect with former -- colleagues and clients. You may get some referrals that way, or someone will remember you from the past and ping you for an update.

Networking deals in the currency of reputation, and we talked about never connecting to someone just because you feel that they may be useful down the line. That is totally unethical, and shows a lack of respect. Who wants to be used just for a quick hit? (Coincidentally, one of the women I chatted to remembered me from my Silicon Valley NORTH days, so some of the familiarity was already in place, which helps.)

On the flip side, sometimes relationships don't work out for the best. Maybe the fit wasn't right, or the parties concerned felt that they couldn't move forward on the same path. It happens. Agree to disagree, try and work it out ... or move on. No point ranting and raving and burning bridges.

Back in 1988 (yes, '88 and not '98!) I worked at a stockbroking company in London, U.K., and there was a really cool guy who everyone liked. To cut a long story short, he got let go, so proceeded to pop across the road to a pub, get smashed, and then came back in a drunken rage to berate the rest of the staff. Security had to remove him.

Guess what my last memory is of that hard-working Mr. Nice Guy is? Yep -- even 21 years later the image of his last drunken rage still lives with me, and that's how I remember him now.

We didn't have that new-fangled thing called the Internet back then, so dread to think what his networking prospects would have been. It was a small industry, almost like a Boys' Club then, so word would have got around about Mr. Nice Guy.

Always network in a responsible manner. You never know who knows the people that you treat badly.

[*Disclaimer: Make Johnny Cash has no connection or affiliation with Hasbro, makers of the popular board game Scrabble. We cannot confirm that the word "networking" is actually worth 78 points on a triple word score, and do not want to be held liable if someone tries that in an actual game and loses. We merely made up the number for blatant link bait purposes. Thank you.]

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