Are You a Toxic Networker?
By Joe Issid
Monster Contributing Writer
If you have ever suffered through the humility and despair of losing your job, you fully understand the utter humility and despair of having to search for a new one. Taking to the street to find that next paycheck can be an extremely difficult and unpleasant task, especially if your financial present and/or future is at risk. As we are all well aware, knowing how to network is going be a critical factor in landing on your feet again. To wit, business networking is at the core of any job search and knowing how to leverage your professional network is likely going to yield the greatest results. Of course, there is also a great risk involved: if you don’t behave appropriately, you risk alienating this group entirely. And you would be surprised how many people do not know how to approach their professional networks for assistance and become known as toxic networkers. Below are some networking tips to help get you on the right path.
Do not spam
It can be incredibly tempting to write a single email and send it to everyone in your contact list asking them for help finding a new job. After all, getting in touch with a few hundred people at the click of a button is incredibly easy. However, you are probably not going to get very far with this approach. Most of us are extremely capable of sniffing out a spam message and virtually no one is going to respond to something so generic and, let’s face it, lazy. Additionally, if you belong to a strong business network, it may reflect poorly on you as your message is not well-targeted and will, essentially, be wasting people’s time. I would recommend you take the time to approach people individually and use your one-on-one networking skills to your advantage.
Don’t be aggressive
I know how difficult it can be looking for a new job and the desperation that may come with it. But this should never impact how you interact with people around you. Searching for work can be frightening and terribly frustrating but you should do your best to conceal these emotions from anyone within your professional network. For instance, if someone in your business network isn’t responding to you, you need to take it in stride and remain professional at all times. Being pushy or aggressive will always work against you.
Are you asking for too much?
Most people within your network are probably more than happy to lend a helping hand if they are in the position to do so. I have been helped out by many professional contacts throughout my career and have done my best to reciprocate whenever I have had the chance. However, we always need to be mindful not to impose unrealistic expectations on our friends and colleagues nor should we be seeking to massively inconvenience anyone. Asking a former colleague to send an email on your behalf to a hiring manager within his/her company is perfectly acceptable; asking someone to send you daily updates on your job application status is not. Of course, you need to evaluate the relationship you have with the person in question as that could certainly determine how much they may be willing to help. Just remember to keep your requests at a reasonable and acceptable level.
Deliver on everything
If someone in your professional network has gone to bat for you, it is in your best interest for you to follow through on your end. If someone has helped arrange a job interview, you had better show up and perform as well as possible. Failing to show up and perform as advertised will not only reflect poorly on you but it will also reflect very poorly on the person who recommended you. If you develop a reputation for being late for appointments or canceling them at the last minute, people are not going to want to help you out down the road and companies are very unlikely to give you a second chance.
Developing good networking skills is not something that can be easily taught but developing some networking basics is certainly within most people’s grasp. For the most part, behaving in a polite and professional manner is the simplest prerequisite to avoid being a toxic networker. Respecting people’s time and generosity is also a key ingredient of being able to leverage your professional network to its fullest capacity.