Don’t Be That Guy – Mister Magoo

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

Those of you around my age probably remember the old Mister Magoo cartoons.  The lovable old guy voiced by Jim Backus (aka “Mister Howell”, the millionaire from Gilligan’s Island) who was severely shortsighted but refused to wear glasses, and so would constantly wind up in a series of whacky misadventures as he blindly stumbled (or drove…) around the face of the planet leaving chaos in his wake.  He would wander into women’s showers thinking he was getting misted by a sprinkler system, complain about the bumpy road he was driving on…as he was riding through a minefield with explosions going off all around him, use a neighbor’s cat sunning on his windowsill as a dust mop since they basically had the same texture…

…and because we lived in a world before the Political Correctness Police took over, his hijinks were laughed off with a finger shake and an “Oh Magoo, you’ve done it again!“, an exasperated shake of the head, and he was never carted off to jail for stalking or chastised for harassment.  Everyone around him just sort of adapted to his inability to see beyond the bridge of his nose.

You’re not going to be that lucky, trust me…

There are a million and a half quotes I could use in the introduction here – “It’s a marathon, not a sprint”.  “See the big picture”.  “Short term pain, long term gain”.  “Penny wise, pound foolish”.  “Won the battle but lost the war.”

They’re all very cliché, things you’ve heard a million times before…but that doesn’t make them any less true, especially when it comes to networking.  And, as always, it amazes me how many people miss “the basics” when it comes to why networking should matter to them.

If there’s one thing that we always try to stress to people (other than “Don’t Be That Guy” and “have a beer”) it’s that your network is the most important thing you will develop over the course of your career…and if it’s not, you have a problem.  When you’re working on your network, you can’t be Mister Magoo – you have to be able to see down the road a bit and get out of the “now”.

magoodbtgThis isn’t the first time we’ve tried to hammer this point home.  It’s not even the second time.  Hell, it’s not even the third time.  No, this is something we regularly and routinely try to get people to understand, but it seems to keep coming up and so it bears getting into again.

The basics of why you should get out and network got covered with The Recliner Principle.  After a few facepalm incidents, we tried a harder approach with The Lazy Job Seeker.  I thought my head was going to explode one day whilst cruising around LinkedIn, and Missing The Point Guy happened.  After a few more conversations and chats with people, we took the softer-sell approach with Thoughts on Basements and Networks.

And yet the hits just keep on coming.

See, networking doesn’t just apply to you, personally.  You also have to remember that when you’re out and about doing your thing, people will ask who you work for and work with, and your actions will help shape their opinions of not just you, but also the company you work for and the people with whom you work day to day.  And if you’re the owner or one of the principals of the company in question, that’s magnified greatly – now not only does what you say and do have an impact on you and your company, but it also has a ripple effect out to your employees as well.  You have to be a little more guarded, a little more forgiving, and a little more political.

Yes, I realize how hypocritical that sounds coming from the “Don’t Be That Guy” guys who basically made a name for themselves by being completely unforgiving and the least politically correct guys in the metro Detroit area.  There’s a difference, though – isn’t a company, and has always been about being a refuge from That Guy.  A place where we could have a drink, some food, a few beers, or whatever else with like-minded folks who were in our industry.  We’ve always been open and honest about that, and we’ve even told you in The Seven Deadly Sins of Networking that sometimes it really is okay to burn bridges.

But you also have to accept the repercussions of those bridges getting torched, too.

So, hypothetically speaking, let’s say your business model is finding people jobs.  You’re essentially a headhunting and staffing company that takes money from company “a” to find them person “b” to fill that role and then you get paid.

As a result, you need to stay in touch with companies looking to hire people, people looking for jobs, and generally have a good relationship with both of those groups as well as anyone who can help you make your business model work so that, again, you get paid.

Let’s stress that – so that you can get paid.  None of us have banked being able to pay our mortgage or car payment on  We all have “real” jobs and do our thing (thank god…we’d all be living in the proverbial van down by the river by now, otherwise…) with this still being that group of folks after work that we just want to have a drink and talk with, and anything else is a happy coincidence.

So if you’re that hypothetical business owner / principal…why burn a bridge with us?  Instead of treating us as the partner and friend we could have been, you decided to think of us as competition, whip out the C4 charges and make sure that the explosion could be seen for miles.

Well, now here we are several months down the road, and let’s say that hypothetically now one of your employees shows up standing on the other side of the ravine from us.  They’re waving, trying to get our attention and say “hello”…

…it’s kind of awkward, and I’m not sure how much “high road” we have left in us to take.

Oh, Magoo…you’ve done it again.

That’s all for this time.  Make sure you check out our other Don’t Be That Guy entries.