Creepy Guy

Wow.  I’ve really got to be honest with you – never thought I was going to have to write this one.  Or, at least I’d seriously hoped/wished/prayed that I wouldn’t have to write this one…but, again, wow.  It’s been an interesting couple of weeks, and so I feel compelled to have a little chat so that I can lay down a few boundaries for the clueless.  With our next Pink Slip Party just around the corner, it seems like it’s a good time to make sure that everyone understands what “casual networking” does…and does not…mean.

So, pull up a chair, kids…Ol’ Bloggy McStoryteller’s going to spout out some more Tales From The Dark Side for you.

See, here’s the thing – kind of like my last blog entry, this one probably isn’t about you.  Actually, for your sake and mine, I really, really hope it’s not about you. I thought we had this covered in The Ten Commandments of Networking.  But I guess not.  And then I thought that surely it was handled by several parts of Brandy’s blog entry from the recruiter’s point of view.

But, apparently not…and stop calling me Shirley.

Nope.  God dammit.  We still have Creepy Guy.  To be politically correct, there is, indeed, “Creepy Girl” out there as well…but, well, I found funnier graphics that go with Creepy Guy, so just roll with it.

Who is “Creepy Guy”, you may ask.  Well, “Creepy Guy” comes in many forms.

For some, this guy’s creepy:

– Red-tinted sunglasses, straight out of 1977?  Check.

– Mouth-breather?  Check.

– A mustache that says “Yes, there’s a really good likelihood that I have a hidden camera somewhere on my body that’s filming you right at this very moment?”  Check.

– Shirt…oh god…the shirt.  Let’s just say “check” and move on.

– Want to take his hair and rub it over your wok on high heat in order to get the perfect stir-fry going?  Mega-check.

Or maybe that’s just your cousin Johnny that mom always told you to never be alone with.  It happens.  I’m not here to judge.

Personally, this guy has always creeped me out way more…and, for the record, that was even before the whole “sucker punched a hooker that wouldn’t french kiss him” thing…but that certainly didn’t help.  Commander Sham-wow here has always had “the creepy eyes” as far as I was concerned…eyes that say “Yeah, you can buy my Sham-wow crap that I’m selling…or you can be body number 37 in my back yard.  What’s it going to be?”

The faux-hawk…the distinct resemblance to a monitor lizard (no offense intended to any monitor lizards that might be reading)…all just combine to make this guy the perfect candidate to star in the new Nightmare on Elm Street remake.  You wouldn’t even need a whole lot of make-up to pull it off, either.

But, some people love Vince the Sham-wow guy.  And I’m sure some people like slimy cousin Johnny, too.  They might be perfectly nice people…so let’s leave appearances out of it for a while and talk about actions…since it’s actions that turn you into Creepy Guy.

With that, I will begin to give you a list of Things You Should Keep In Mind At, Around, During, After, Or In Relation To A Event:

1) This is not speed dating. Or dating of any kind, really.  It’s not.  Yes, by the nature of the business, a lot of recruiters happen to be attractive people.  As much as some of them (and I can think of four off of the top of my head…) will kill me for saying this – just play by the same rules that are in effect at a strip club.  The strippers aren’t dancing for you…they’re dancing for the dollars that they want to pull out of your wallet.  Same goes for the recruiters.  They’re at our events because it’s their job to find, market, and place solid, qualified candidates with their clients.  Sure, you might get a little witty banter…perhaps an arm touch here and there to show interest and keep your attention…but at the end of the day, it’s still the dollar and not you that’s the motivation.  Creepy Guy doesn’t understand this.  Creepy Guy thinks the recruiter is really into him.  He thinks that an invite to the champagne room meet the recruiter for lunch or at their office means that there’s “something there”.  Well, there is…but it’s a technical interview, not a lapdance.

2) Don’t be a stalker. Seriously.  I really, honestly thought I would never have to point this out to people…but events of the last week have proven me wrong.  You come to one of our events.  You meet people.  You follow up in the next day or two with a follow up copy of your resume, a note about the conversation as a reminder of who you are and what you’re looking for…and then you wait.  As hard as it is, as desperate as you may be for a job at the moment…you wait.  You don’t call a recruiter multiple times a day every day…and for the love of god, you don’t just show up at their office unless you’ve been invited.  I was shocked, appalled, horrified…and even somewhat embarrassed to find out that such a chain of events actually happened as a result of one of our events.  A very friendly recruiter that sporadically comes to our events met a candidate, and said candidate went from “possible” to “blacklisted” in a rather short period of time – countless phone calls each day, emails with photos including (so help me, this is the honest truth) what appeared to be a professionally taken headshot, invitations for dinner, drinks, etc., …all things completely outside the realm of “professional networking”…topped off with a random intrusion at the recruiter’s office accompanied with a demand to see her.

3) Understand the purpose of social networking sites. LinkedIn is for professional networking.  Met a recruiter that you had a really great conversation with, one that perhaps gave you a card with a LinkedIn address on it or specifically said “Hey, find me on LinkedIn”?  Great.  Have a great conversation with a fellow job seeker, and you think you might be able to help each other out in your respective job searches?  Great.  Find them on LinkedIn and add them in.  Remember though that LinkedIn Is Not A Video Game.  A casual, momentary chat that didn’t lead anywhere or wound up involving the phrase “We don’t really focus on your area of expertise…” probably means you should pass on the LinkedIn connection idea.  And Facebook…well, Facebook is for friends.  Picture Facebook as a person’s virtual home online, and ask yourself a simple question – would this person invite me over to their house?  Then, just to be safe, ask yourself “Would a sane, rational third-party that happened to be observing my interaction with this person expect that I would be invited over to their house?”  If the answer to either of those is “No”, “Not a chance”, “It’s not like that”, or “Ohmygod No”…then, again, pass on the Facebook idea.  Whether it’s another job seeker, a recruiter, or someone else that happens to be in attendance…the general rule of thumb here should, as always, be “Don’t Be That Guy”.  I’m aware that many recruiters are starting up second profiles on Facebook specifically for the purposes of recruiting (and some job seekers are doing the same thing for job hunting purposes)…and if you get an invitation, great, do so…but don’t push.

4) Know when the conversation’s over.  Nobody likes guests that overstay their welcome, and there’s nothing worse than being unable to fully participate in a networking event like ours because Creepy Guy has you trapped in corner or won’t leave your side.  Again, this isn’t just about recruiters, this goes for other job seekers as well – understand that everyone there has a single purpose in mind – to find what they need.  Whether it’s a recruiter looking for a good candidate, or a job seeker looking to be that good candidate, everyone is there looking to make their way around the room and ensure that they don’t miss out on the person that meets their needs, so don’t be the reason that they don’t make that connection.

5) Read our blogs.  Really, read them.  We put them out there for a reason – to help keep people from making mistakes that can keep them out of the loop, unemployed, or just generally inhibit them from building the kind of network that they want.  Don’t Be That Guy.  It’s what our whole group is about.

That’s all for this time, folks.