Going to work: Networking should be purposeful — not puzzling

networking framedNetworking should be purposeful, not puzzling.  If, when asked, you cannot provide a common interest or acquaintance in common, don’t be surprised if your attempts to connect fall flat.

Lacking telepathy, I remain at a loss to explain this conversation that I had with an Unknown Person who wanted to connect on Facebook with me. Yes, I know that I could have ignored her, but  I wanted to be helpful…But what did she really want? I still don’t know.

UNKNOWN PERSON:  [Facebook request]

ME: Can you tell me how we are connected? Thanks, Susan

UNKNOWN PERSON: Fb! Network Marketing.

ME: I need more info about how I might be helpful. I have three very distinct businesses: Pass the Baton (generation shift consulting), nanoscapes (abstract watercolor painting and design), and susan-cooks! (a modest cooking school and food blog). What’s the connection?

UNKNOWN PERSON: Networking!

ME: Dear [first name]:

Perhaps I’m not making myself clear, but I am coming from a quarter of a century of work in career services, much of which was spent advising law students about making the connections that are buzz-worded with the label “networking.” I am trying to figure out what information or connections that I have that might be helpful to you.

Here is some of the advice that I offered to students and alumni:
1. Ask questions that people can answer. I would not be a great connection if you had interest in the construction industry.
2. Help people help you by sharing the information that helps them make connections or share useful information. Since I know nothing about you other than your goal of “networking,” I don’t yet see what I can do to be helpful to you.

Thank you.

UNKNOWN PERSON: Thank you for that information! You are an inspirational person!

About susangainen

Whimsical Wildlife Documentarian. Abstract Painter. Writer. Teacher. Explorer.
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