Are you a flake?
Periodically I receive an email or phone call that goes something like this.
How are you! I’ve got some great ideas and I really want to talk to you about them! Let’s get lunch next week!
Of course next week comes and goes without any followup to my polite reply and we never do lunch. Fortunately I brown bag a lot.
Some people are flaky
Networking is not speed-dating folks, its investing. Its not drive-by shout outs, its building over the long term. It is not usurious, its mutually beneficial.
If random emails, abortive lunch dates, missed phone calls, and follow ups that are rescheduled and then ignored again are your hallmarks you’re developing a reputation.
As a flake.
Someone who just can’t seem to get their act together when reaching out. Good will is probably unlimited but its not unbounded. At some point we stop reaching back and redirect our good will to others.
If you cry wolf once too often, will anyone really care?
Many of my colleagues will give back whenever they can. Karma really works and a lot of us believe in paying it forward and helping others out.
Its no accident so many of them are truly nice people: we gravitate to those who help.
But you gotta do your part
You have to reach back.
So, like any good investor constantly tending their portfolio, think about building relationships all the time. And avoid these classic mistakes.
- Flakiness – Erratic orbits of interest and passivity wear us out. When others realize you won’t follow through your random requests for leads, referrals, phone numbers, etc., will be ignored
- Waiting – Attempting to develop a network only when you need it is like checking for a spare tire after you’ve had a flat: you hope its there and all pumped up. Invest constantly. Needy is not pretty
- Commitment – If you agree to do things for others when reaching out, do them. Nothing sours a relationship faster than making a commitment and failing it. Can’t do what’s asked? Don’t agree to
- Denigration – Its a big ol’ world: please don’t put down others when reaching out – you don’t know how the six degrees ties the person you’re talking to to the one you’re talking about. Be nice
- Pay back – Give back when you can. No one wants to help a potential contact with a reputation as simply a consumer of relationships: we want to help people who share. Give back to get back
- Pretender – Be who you are. Why would you want to network with people you have to change for anyway? Be yourself and you’ll find others are more responsive
The joy of developing relationships is one of the highlights in a professional life whether you’re an artist, archeologist or central banker. We all appreciate the camaraderie and interaction with peers and associates who know how to invest in mutual relationships over time.
So do yourself a favor and practice the art of investing in relationships.
It not an item on your to-do list.
Its building a healthy ecosystem of people who really care.