How to be a powerful connector without feeling used

Recently, a Bossed Up podcast listener called in with a career conundrum all about how to provide advice and encouragement to budding professionals without feeling used and burned when her prospective proteges up and ghost her!

Don’t get me wrong: I want all of us to lift as we climb and support one another. But Bossed Up women – including those of us who find ourselves in the position of mentoring and counseling others along the way – must set clear boundaries for how we give back.

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Set boundaries for giving back

One thing to consider is to set limits on how many of these meetings you’ll take. Perhaps you can justify mentorship meetings once a month or once a week.

Whatever you make space for, send the folks who ask for your counsel a Calendly link that’s set up to just allow them to book time on your schedule during those limited hours. That way, you know you’re making yourself available to give back, but also can protect your time, too.

Ask more of the person who’s asking for help

Second, it’s perfectly fine to ask more of the folks you choose to mentor. When I meet with people like this, I’m promising them a certain amount of my focused time. The follow-up game is really up to them to pursue.

During our initial meeting I’ll typically drop a few names of people who I’d be willing to connect them with. I tell them to first do their due diligence and look those folks up before I introduce them, so they can be sure that yes, that is someone they’d be interested in being connected with. Otherwise, we run the risk of connecting people before they’re sure it’s what they really need and want.

From there, I always ask the folks I mentor to send me a quick introductory paragraph I should use when introducing them. This allows them to ensure that I’m introducing them by highlighting what’s most important for their purposes, and it saves me the time, energy, and effort of writing up my own little explanation of who they are and why they’d like to connect.

At the end of my mentorship meetings, I tell them I’ll respond to their email when they send me those two things: a list of the folks they’ve vetted to make sure they want to be introduced to and the blurb I should use when making the connection.

Opt for the double opt-in

Finally, it’s always best to opt for the double opt-in before introducing someone. By that I mean, email your contact first to get their permission to be connected. In the spirit of ensuring that none of us feel used while supporting other professionals on the rise, this is key: before you CC everyone together, get permission to connect folks first.

I’ve written in the past about how I used to jump the gun and make this networking mistake. But it can earn you a reputation for taking your connections for granted, so don’t make the same rookie error.

If you get ghosted, it’s not about you

Keep in mind: if the folks you mentor completely ghost on you after you made time to give them advice: that’s not about you, boo. That’s on them!

On next week’s boss tip podcast, we’ll turn the tables on this question and answer another listener career conundrum about how to slay the follow-up game when you’re the one asking to “pick someone’s brain” over coffee, so stay tuned!

This article originally appeared on BossedUp.

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