Networking No-Nos?

I recently saw this article (The Case of the Pushy Lady by Liz Ryan) headlining my yahoo homepage and must admit that I was a bit disappointed when I read it. I suppose it isn't anyone's fault but my own - the headline said something about "Networking No-Nos", it was silly of me to expect the how-to guide that I continue to seek when it comes to the skill of networking... The article pointed out some of the things I have grappled with in other posts here on Ms. JD - the problem of being too pushy in our networking endeavors, but it left me with more confusion about that elusive line between pushy and positive self promotion - and less answers about how to effectively network without crossing the line. Granted, the anecdotes in the article did seem a bit pushy... but how could they have approached the author in a manner that would have bettered the outcome? You introduce yourself to another person, but then what? Should you engage in meaningless small talk until you've reached some sort of comfort level that makes it suddenly ok to ask for favors? Something more? Do you foster a friendship? How well do you have to know a person before it is ok to utilize them as a networking contact? The author spoke of a sense of quid pro quo, and this makes perfect sense to me - but I do think that if you are attending networking events or participating in networking websites, you are putting yourself out there in a way that it may be prudent of you to give when kindly asked - and simply hope that the favor is returned someday. The author indicated that she is happy to help people and receive nothing in return - but she mentioned this in reference to individuals that she has ongoing correspondence with. Now I am wondering what that correspondence looks like... I suspect it might be full of casual small talk or perhaps the type of quick hello one expects from a friend? I'm not sure... So here I am again, wondering what is good-pushy vs. bad-pushy and I'm just not sure what to do with that. Perhaps I will simply have to make mistakes as I test the waters and hope that those mistakes aren't crippling.



Dear Kalokagathia,
Your plea was so heartfelt that I went through the process of registering on the site just so I could leave you the answer you asked for, namely, how might that Pushy Lady in the story handled the conversation better? Here's one example:
 HER (in line, entering a networking gathering): So, what are you up to?
ME: I write and speak about the workplace, and consult with employers.
HER: What are you working on right now?
ME: Tomorrow, I'm doing a training session at a company here in town - Acme Industries.
HER: Ah, terrific. Which subject will you be traing on? (Or, how long have you been doing that? Or, Is that a new program for you? Or—whatever)
We would talk a little in the way that people do—and of course, if I've been raised with any manners at all (I hope so) I will turn the tables.
ME: But enough about that - tell me about yourself!
HER: Well, I'm job-hunting right now.
ME: What sorts of jobs are you focusing on?
HER: X, Y and Z, etc.
 Now here is the key Kalokagathia—- IF we have established a rapport in the ten minutes we've been speaking, then I will say "How can I help in your job search?" THAT is her signal to say "You know, it so happens that one of the companies I'm targeting is Acme Industries." Then I can say "Well, I would be happy to mention to my client at Acme that I've met you, and pass along your resume." It's not that you can't ask people for help - of course you can.  But that help has to rest on a relationship that ALREADY EXISTS. Otherwise, why not just go up to every person on the street and ask "Can you help me get a job? What about you? How about you?" Good networking relies on what we already know about human relationships: the trust comes first, then the transactions can commence. For more on this subject, your readers can check out the AskLizRyan email discussion group at www.yahoogroups.com/group/asklizryan
 Have a great week - Liz


<div align=“left”>Thanks! That is helpful - I really appreciate the elaboration (and I know many of my peers do as well - networking is a mystery to many of us!) and will definitely be checking out your e-mail discussion group.  </div>

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