Even That Guy Deserves Help

Even That Guy Deserves Help

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Originally posted 2015-08-24 13:01:22. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

One of the most important transitions I’ve made in my career over the years has been taking the plunge into wanting to help other people more…yes, even helping “That Guy”.  I’ve learned that nobody’s really looking to be the person that people don’t want to be around…they usually just don’t know any better.  So, you can take two approaches – escape to the bathroom and then come back to the other side of the group, or you can take the time to help them understand where they’re going wrong.

Prior to one of our meetings last year, I passed along an invitation to a friend that had recently moved back into the area and was getting back into recruiting.  Unfortunately, he couldn’t make it, but he mentioned that a couple of his younger colleagues would be there.  After about an hour or two, I noticed two younger guys in jackets and ties (sidenote: wearing a tie to what is described as a casual networking event immediately puts you under suspicion of being “That Guy”) that were all too obviously in full pushy salesguy mode.  They were young, probably not even 25 yet, and they were over the top eager to make an impression – an impression to their bosses that they were going to find incredible candidates to hire, and an impression in the event that they were there to hire people for great gigs.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that – I mean, obviously, one of the main points of DetroitNet is doing just that – getting the right people together so that good things can happen…

…my god…I think I’ve just realized that we’re the professional equivalent of Match.com…but I digress.

d7nenUnfortunately for the overly eager pair, I could tell that they were being That Guy by the looks on the faces of anyone they had cornered into conversations.  The eyerolling.  The furtive glances to the left and right trying to find an escape route.  The complete lack of attention accompanied by the occasional head nod just to appear to be still engaged.

Deciding to take the long-term approach in mind, I approached the pair and explained the situation to them by simply saying “Not here.”  Yes, you’re here to make contacts – some of which you’ll follow up on in the coming days and hopefully net some business out of.  Yes, you’re here to meet people to find out if that contact is worth pursuing.  Yes, you may well make that contact that will impress your boss or lead to additional business…but if you truly believe that you’re going to close a deal with just a casual meeting in a bar, then you really have a lot to learn.

Though they were initially taken a bit aback at first, I was glad to see that they both mellowed out substantially, and carried on conversations with various people throughout the evening in a much more laid-back mode.  The best moment came a few days later though – the following Tuesday, I got an email from one of them thanking me for taking the time to talk with him and helping him better set his expectations and approach.  He said that the two people he’d talked to before I approached them weren’t even returning his calls…but the three he talked with afterwards…well, he was having lunch with them that week for preliminary interviews and follow up discussions.

So, really, there are two morals to this story:

  1. Don’t be That Guy that tries to hard.  Good contacts and good networks take time to build, and if you push too hard, you may well miss out.
  2. Don’t be That Guy that won’t take the time to help out your fellow networkers…even if they are That Guy.  You can’t save people from themselves…but you can at least make the effort to keep them from blindly tripping over their own mistakes.  If someone chooses to ignore you and carry on being That Guy…well, at least you’ll know you made the effort.

David Phillips is the geek that’s been pushed into management roles over the span of his career. He’s been a helpdesk jockey, a team lead, a systems architect and even a Vice President over the course of his more than 20 years in information technology for a variety of industries. He’s been profiled by CNN’s Money Magazine for his work with the group, as well as being a regular speaker for the Michigan Shifting Gears program, winning 2013’s “Outstanding Contributor for the Transformation of Careers and Lives”. The views and opinions expressed here are solely in his own, and relate to IT in the D only.

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