Originally posted 2014-04-07 11:17:36. Republished by Blog Post Promoter
“If I show up at your door, chances are you did something to bring me there.” – Martin Blank, Grosse Pointe Blank.
“I didn’t say I was different or better. I’m not. Hell, I sympathize; I sympathize completely. Apathy is the solution. I mean, it’s easier to lose yourself in drugs than it is to cope with life. It’s easier to steal what you want than it is to earn it. It’s easier to beat a child than it is to raise it. Hell, love costs: it takes effort and work.” – From the movie “Se7en”
Since we gave you the 10 Commandments of Networking, it seemed only natural that we should also tell you what the Seven Deadly Sins of Networking are in order to round out the equation.
Funny thing about that though…
…we already have. We just didn’t call them out as a group. So, this will be something of a “Best of…” compilation, with bits of new wisdom sprinkled in from time to time.
No, not the guy chained up in the basement in Goonies. Yeah, yeah…ha ha, “Baby Ruth”…get it out of your system and let’s get started.
“Sloth” is, in a nutshell, “laziness”. And not even just “laziness”…but “laziness to the point where it’s seriously detrimental to yourself and/or others”. You cannot be lazy about networking. Whether it’s waiting too long to do it, or just never getting around to following up with people…any way you look at it, if you’re lazy, you’re screwed.
“Lazy Guy” is also one of our frequent topics. Probably one of my favorite “Don’t Be That Guy” entries that I ever wrote was also one of my first, and it’s called “The Recliner Principle” out at http://www.ITinTheD.com/22/the-recliner-principle/ I really recommend giving it a read, because it’s all too easy to fall into this trap.
It’s not that hard to understand – you get out of it what you put into it. If you come to our events and stand on the wall without ever talking to anyone…you’re probably going to think our events suck. If you don’t follow up with the recruiters that you meet at our events to stay in touch and get things rolling, you’re probably going to think that there’s nothing there to help you find a job. We give you the opportunities, but you still have to do some work, too.
Yes, the walking and talking Google of pop culture sitting trapped in my head knows that Gordon Gecko said “Greed is good” in Wall Street.
Well, that was a long time ago, kids. And just like the inevitability that Wall Street 2 would suck, it was also inevitable that this adage would become less and less true over time.
Being all about yourself at networking events is a good way to find yourself voted off the island. We talked about him in Greedy Networking Guy (http://www.ITinTheD.com/617/greedy-networking-guy/) …but he takes many forms. Greedy Networking Guy can be the person that interrupts you four words into your answer to his “So what do you do?” question to talk about himself. He can be the person that only really cares about networking with your wallet. He can be the person that has no connections to the metro Detroit area and only shows up when it’s time to introduce you to another room full of MLM people and insurance salesmen. She might be the person that only shows up in your inbox when it’s time to look for a new job after not hearing from her in years. Yes, Greedy Networking Guy has a female counterpart as well.
For networking to really be effective for you, you have to be willing to give more than you take. You have to be able to listen and not just talk. You have to want to be the person that lends a helping hand, and not always the person reaching out for a lifeline.
Networking events are designed to help people make connections. However, unless you’re attending an event put on by Chuck Woolery, they’re not about Love Connections. It still irritates me that the events leading up to the writing of Don’t Be That Guy: Creepy Guy (http://www.ITinTheD.com/93/creepy-guy/) ever took place…but they did, and so it deserved to get called out. In fact, I think I’m going to steal a page from Bob’s gun club (yes, Bob belongs to a gun club…it freaks me out at times too, trust me) and establish a new rule: the first time this happens, we call you out anonymously. The second time it happens, we’re going to call you out specifically. The third time it happens, you’re out and no longer welcome at our events.
Consider “Creepy Guy” the anonymous call out. Because it was.
Now, on paper, you might think that this is the same as “greedy”…but it’s not. No, this special call out got served up with our DBTG entitled “LinkedIn Is Not A Video Game“. (http://www.ITinTheD.com/20/linkedin-is-not-a-video-game/)
Now…full disclosure – I completely realize that I’ve amassed hundreds of connections on LinkedIn, and so one might say that going down this road is hypocritical of me.
Well, one would be wrong. The connections in my network are recruiters from our events that I’ve met and with whom I’ve had conversations. They’re job seekers from our events with whom I’ve chatted, picked up a good vibe, and offered to help them in their search. And, of course, they’re also people that I’ve worked with over the years and know quite well personally. I also purge my “stale” connections on a monthly basis…if I haven’t chatted with you in a bit…haven’t seen you at our events in a while…odds are good we’re not going to stay connected.
Some might say that every Don’t Be That Guy that we put out there is an example of “wrath”, and I can understand why they’d think that. But “wrath”, technically speaking, means “rage”. We don’t do “rage”. We do “scorn”. We do “contempt”. We do “disappointment”. We do “annoyed”. We even do “condescending”. “Rage” though implies an irrational blindness caused by anger…and we don’t go there.
Tom Hanks taught me a very valuable lesson, though. It happened during the movie “Volunteers” – sometimes, it’s okay to burn (or in that case, “blow up”) a bridge in order to save the village. Some bridges just deserve to be burned because there’s no way in hell you’re ever going to want to cross them again. So, from time to time, we break out the kerosene and lighters.
I think the trick is to keep a level head about it, stay rational, and most importantly – don’t be hypocritical about it. We’re really up front with where our hot buttons are – MLM folks. People that try to build an income stream off of desperate folks. Job fairs. The willfully ignorant. We don’t change our tune about it, either. We’re consistent in our opinions, and we hold the line.
But we stay rational throughout it all. Even when someone else whips out the flamethrowers (“Hi, Tom!”), we try and keep a level head and not go completely ballistic.
So keep a level head, even when you run into your worst enemy at a networking event. Even if it’s the boss that made your life hell. Even if it’s a former significant other that cheated on you with half the town. Even if it’s someone that screwed over your best friend. Even if it’s the person that fired you.
It doesn’t matter, and it’s not worth it. Take the high road, and you’ll be a better person for it.
And yes, all of those situations have evolved at one event or another of ours. And I’m proud to say that nobody’s behaved inappropriately when dealing with them.
Yeah, I know…if you go all traditional about it then I’m dropping “envy” in favor of this one…and there’s a reason. In a nutshell, the 10 Commandments (the real ones, not ours about networking) says: “Neither shall you desire…anything that belongs to your neighbor”. That’s a good thing to keep in mind, and something that we’ve harped on quite a bit as well. Most particularly in those aforementioned Ten Commandments of Networking. But in all reality, “envy” isn’t a mortal sin when it comes to networking.
But lying to people is.
It’s a very small world. The IT community in metro Detroit is even smaller than that. We talk. If you lie to someone – misrepresenting yourself, or a job that you’re looking to hire someone into, or who you are and what you do…it’s going to get around. If you screw someone over…you can be sure it will still get around…but people might still listen to your side of the story, as long as it can’t be shown that you were lying the entire time. Or that you don’t change your story constantly and can’t make up your mind as to who or what you are. The best examples of this come from “Through The Looking Glass” – http://www.ITinTheD.com/887/through-the-looking-glass/ – which goes into detail on why we think job fairs and the people that run them suck, “Crazy Dave’s House of Deals” – http://www.ITinTheD.com/217/crazy-daves-house-of-deals/ – which uncovered the Chameleons among us that change their pitch and presentation based on who they’re trying to swindle at the moment, and, of course, the Ten Commandments of Networking – http://www.ITinTheD.com/68/the-ten-commandments-of-networking/. We also talked about it a little bit when it comes to job seekers in “Lessons From a Child’s Toy” – http://www.ITinTheD.com/30/lessons-from-a-childs-toy/.
The moral of the story? Just be yourself. If you can’t be yourself in the group that you’re in or with the people you’re around…then you’re in the wrong group.
I can, from time to time, be an overly arrogant egotistical freak. Again…freely admitted. I’m a geek in the IT industry. It kind of comes with the territory. Just ask any recruiter or sales person in the game, and they’ll tell you – geeks are, by and large, an arrogant lot.
But there’s a key difference between “being proud of what you can do”, and “being prideful”, which leads to committing this final deadly sin.
That’s “Missing The Point Guy” – http://www.ITinTheD.com/1268/dont-be-that-guy-missing-the-point-guy/ in a nutshell. It’s also one of the leading contributing factors (along with fear) to the increasing population of pufferfish – http://www.ITinTheD.com/56/the-pufferfish-effect/ – in the wild these days. Someone gets their ego all twisted up in a bunch over a minor transgression and POOF…you’ve got a puffer on your hands.
And I’ll be honest…I used to be this guy. I didn’t think I needed a network of people around me to help me. I didn’t think I needed “connections”. I didn’t think I needed to get to know “those business people” that didn’t understand technology. I’m here to tell you…damn, I couldn’t have possibly been any more wrong. On all counts. It doesn’t matter how many cool bullet points you have on your resume, or how well your latest smartphone app is selling. There is, and will always be, someone better, faster, smarter and more capable than you are.
So keep the ego in check, learn to take constructive criticism, and don’t be afraid to ask for help or admit that you don’t know something. It’s okay…really, it is.
Oh…and Don’t Be That Guy.
Until next time…