I’ve written before about mistakes people make when networking, so it’s only fair that I also write about people who get it right. One of the best things you can do when asking for help in your job search (or any venture) is to reconnect with the person who helped you. Recently, someone I connected got it right, and I hope that jobseekers can benefit.
Malcolm Gladwell, in his groundbreaking book The Tipping Point, calls some people “Connectors.” These people tend to meet and connect to more people than the average person, and they seem to take pleasure in connecting others as well. Connectors are the people who make networking work. Every connection you make as a jobseeker gets you one step closer to your next employer, so these connecting meetings are important.
Recently, I connected a friend (we’ll call him Phil) with another friend who was in a position to offer him advice and support for a new project. I volunteered the contact information for my friend; it was a spontaneous offer that took me exactly ten seconds to execute: cut and paste an email address into a message for Phil. Phil thanked me at the time (a few weeks ago) for the courtesy.
What Phil did recently shows that he understands the power of connections. Phil had already thanked me in passing for following through on my offer of help. Last week, he spent an hour with my contact, and she was very helpful. Happy ending. On his way back to the office after the breakfast meeting, Phil took a few seconds of his own to leave me a voice message, where he took the time to thank me again for connecting him, tell me how useful it had been to his project, and mention how much he admired and enjoyed meeting my contact.
Phil demonstrated his understanding of connections in many ways; it wasn’t the ten seconds to forward an email address that I was offering – it was the ten years I’d invested in building a relationship with my contact. If Phil had been late for the meeting, not had a project that was worth her time, or had in some other way not reflected well on my professional judgment, he could have damaged my reputation – and relationship – with my connection. That’s a big responsibility.
Phil also understands that Connectors derive their enjoyment from knowing that their connections have made a difference. By telling me about results of the meeting, he let me know that I was helpful. That positive feedback makes me more likely to help other people in the future. It’s also nice to know that my contact came through for him; after all, I also staked my reputation on her willingness and ability to help him.
Finally, a note on why Phil’s message demonstrates real savvy in networking. It meets the three requirements of great feedback:
- It was spontaneous (he called when he was still enthusiastic about it and the energy around the project was high)
- It was soon (he took the time to call right after the meeting; delaying thanks makes it less meaningful for both the sender and receiver)
- It was specific (he told me what happened and what he liked about my contact)
Have you been connected lately? How did you follow up?