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The Detroit Lions: Nepotism and The Dark Side of Networking

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Originally posted 2015-11-27 13:59:38. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

“I would probably say that I’m not qualified to run any other NFL team, but I think I’m qualified to run this one because of the connection to the Ford family” – Rod Wood, Detroit Lions President

“If I show up at your door, chances are you did something to bring me there.” – Martin Blank, Grosse Pointe Blank

Just like The Force, there’s a light side and a dark side of networking.  We’ve told you a million times (okay, maybe not literally a million, but a lot) that networking is the lifeblood of your career, because it can help you open doors and overcome hurdles that might otherwise be impossible to survive…

…but then along comes The Detroit Lions and their recent housecleaning adventure, and we have a prime example of The Dark Side of Networking…

8efmfI know, I know…”Dave, you don’t even like football, and here you are with your second blog entry based on the Detroit Lions”…well, that just goes to show you that I pay attention to things I don’t like…as well as how important of a lesson this is that it’s worth me doing some homework and writing about it.  Plus, Suh never showed up to kill me after the first one, so I’m just going to assume I’ll be safe with this one, too.

dsnetWhich brings me to Rod Wood, new President of the Detroit Lions.

Now look, other than triggering my inner 11 year to giggle at the name “Rod Wood”, I knew absolutely nothing about the man.  Had no idea who he is, what he does, or what his qualifications were.  The immediate feedback from sports stations around the area seemed to be full of doom and gloom, “Same Old Lions”, declarations that it was a huge mistake to bring yet another person from inside the organization to a position of importance within the Lions food chain.

And then…then he held a press conference.

A press conference during which he said “I would probably say that I’m not qualified to run any other NFL team, but I think I’m qualified to run this one because of the connection to the Ford family”, and the already less-than-enthused sports talk crews went off the deep end.

And I can’t say that I blame them.

excnetBecause there is a Dark Side to networking, and it’s what happens when people who aren’t qualified at all to hold a given position are put there by their buddies and friends as a favor.  That’s where things like “the old boy’s network” and similar expressions come into play.  See, the point about networking is supposed to be about connecting to people in the industry to potentially gain a leg up and work your way forward.  And yes, to possibly get connected into places that you might not otherwise know about, or have an “in” with, or be able to get your foot in the door.

And yes, sometimes it’s about having someone know that just because you don’t have one skill that a position requires, that doesn’t mean you’re not completely unqualified and are worth taking a look at to fill it.

But we’ve all been through situations in life where we’ve dealt with someone who only has their job because of their friendship with someone higher up the org chart.  They’re not qualified in any way, shape or form for the role that they’re in, and this can be a prime factor in people leaving an organization.  It hardly ever works out well…other than for the aforementioned buddy who gets to have the job they’re in no way appropriate for, that is.  Sure, Rod might have been doing great on the business side when it comes to the Ford estate, but does that really translate to running a football franchise?  Does a relationship with the owners get to trump practical experience and the lack of a track record for such an important role in the organization?

And even if you find yourself saying “yes” to those questions…do you really then hold a press conference to announce those facts to the already skeptical world at large?

So as you’re going about your networking activities, here’s another valuable takeaway: don’t be like the Detroit Lions.

Which probably applies to a lot of areas of life.

That’s all for this time – go read something else.

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