How to fail at Networking without really trying

Anyone who’s spent any time in the job market will tell you that networking will get you everywhere.  Knowing people and being willing to talk to them about what they do and who they know is the fastest way to land interviews and jobs.  I recently landed a new part-time gig that I’m really excited about for precisely that reason: I had the skills and experience and I knew someone who was able to hook me up with the people who were looking for someone like me.

Today I happened upon a lesson in exactly how NOT to network.  Someone failed in spectacular fashion at Networking 101.  Let the following be a lesson to us all.

Names and hypotheticals have been changes to protect the stupid guilty.

You’re a freelancer in a field where freelancers are common.  You also work in a city that’s large and happens to be packed with a lot of other freelancers in your field.  Competition can be pretty fierce if you want to make it.

You’re scrolling through your email at your desk and you see an email from someone who you’ve worked with on a couple of projects in the past.  You’re a pretty good graphic designer, this person is a publishing project manager who’s mostly been doing production work but has aspirations for higher things.

You take a minute to remember who this person is, it’s been a while since you’ve seen an email from them about a project looking for a good graphic designer, but once you remember you open the email.  Maybe this is an opportunity?  You never know but it can’t hurt to look.

Instead the email is a couple of sentences about how this person has accepted a position with XYZ publishing company.  The good news is that, though this isn’t a C-suite type job, your acquaintance will have regular CEO face time and that since XYZ publishers is a small indie house, they contract out work.  A LOT of work as it turns out.  Really interesting and creative stuff.

There are a few closing sentences about how XYZ is about to pub a new series of graphic novels that your acquaintance project managed as a freelancer and that they’ll be out soon, then a quick goodbye.  As emails go it is quick and polite.

What is your response?

Do you:

  1. Write back with congratulations and ask to be kept in the loop on potential freelance gigs.
  2. File it away for future reference.
  3. Write back and say, “Please remove me from your list.”
  4. Something else which you will explain in the comments.

If you answered with #1, Congratulations!  You pass at Networking 101.  If you answered with #2 then you’re still learning.  Keep on working at it.  If you answered with #3 then you just FAILED.  You completely, totally, and utterly failed.  You might want to consider a career that does not involve people.  Or animals.

If you answered with #4 then I look forward to seeing what you have to say in the comments.


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