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Lately, I've been the victim of some pretty pathetic networking. Networking is about sharing information and building trust and rapport, yet lately I feel like some people who want to network with me are doing just the opposite. Here are some of the most common offenses I have experienced.
1. Dropping the ball.
Someone who I have never met contacted me and asked if we could speak because she was interested in becoming a career coach and wanted to learn more about the profession. She said she could talk anytime it was convenient for me, and we set up a time to speak. About an hour before the call, I got an e-mail from her telling me she couldn't make our appointment and asking if she could reschedule. I sent her two alternative meeting times, and she never responded to me.
2. Being inflexible.
Via a business-networking site, a former client asked me and his entire network a professional question about which he was seeking guidance. I told him he could contact me between 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. that day, and we settled on 5 p.m.. He e-mailed me at 4:30 p.m., saying it really wasn't convenient for him to talk on any day until after 6 p.m.
3. Not respecting my time.
An acquaintance asked for some pro bono career advice, and we set up a time to meet. He called me the morning of our meeting, requesting that we push the appointment back 45 minutes.
4. Being lazy.
A person I have never met who has worked at the same company I once worked for sent me a canned LinkedIn invitation that read, "Since you are a person I know and trust, I would like to connect with you."
5. Being pushy.
A colleague of mine who is in sales asked me to introduce her to a decision-maker at an event hosted by a professional association . She then proceeded to pitch her company's products and services as soon as she started shaking the person's hand.
6. Taking advantage of the relationship.
A client asked me to introduce her to one of my colleagues from a previous employer. After the introduction was made, I never heard from the client again until 18 months later, when she lost the contact information for the colleague and wanted me to supply it again.
7. Taking too much of my time.
A referral from a professional organization asked to speak to me for advice on making a career transition into a role as a human -resources practitioner (my former profession). She asked for a few minutes by phone. ... She took 45.
8. Being a stalker.
Someone who I have never met contacted me through LinkedIn and asked me if we could meet in Central Park to chat about her career transition. I opted for a phone call instead.
Don't get caught in the Networking Hall of Shame. Try not to emulate my next appointment (the one who pushed the meeting back by 45 minutes) who is waiting for me in the lobby. People want to help, but you need to network on their terms and be respectful of their time.