Networking And The Law Of Specificityby Sima Dahl
Here are some hard truths about networking:
- People generally want to help you, but only if you make it easy for them
- No one has enough hours in the day to juggle work, hobbies, family, church, self-care, volunteer work… no one
- I personally am not flattered by requests from strangers who want to pick my brain
- Likewise, just because I am connected to lots of people does not mean any of them want to speak with you
Ouch. But there it is, the cold hard truth. That’s why networking is an art. It takes talent to craft your pitch, tenacity to stay in pursuit of your goal, and a fair bit of savvy to succeed. But perhaps most importantly, you need to be specific – what exactly are you asking for? The taller the order, the less likely I can or will help. Not because I’m not inclined to be helpful. But because I simply don’t have time. Let me frame it up for you by sharing a request I received just last week:
Although my background is not in Marketing, (my friend) thought you may have some contacts who could assist me in my job search. My background is finance and general business. I have my MBA and 8+ years working experience for a small private bank and also two large retail corporations. Please let me know if you could point me in the right direction!
She was pleasant enough but I ask you, what am I supposed to do with this? Flip through my mental Rolodex of 3,000+ connections and try to come up with a few names? And then send them to her? Or perhaps make an introduction for her? What would I even say? No, this will never work. I don’t have enough RAM in my head to sort this out for her.
Here’s what she might have done – any of which I would have considered:
- Ask me for 10 minutes by phone within the next 3 weeks (short call, long leeway)
- Give me names of specific companies she’s targeting
- Ask to connect with me on LinkedIn and do the homework herself – identify people she’d like to meet
- Ask for advice on how to conduct information interviews, in which case I would refer her to a prior blog
Listen, here’s the bottom line: I want to help you. People want to help you. But do not ask for the world; don’t send me your resume and ask me to read it for you… to share it with my network. Be precise, be specific, ask for something small and succeed. You can grow the relationship from there.
If you’ve had success networking in small, specific bites, I’d love to hear about it here!