Welcome… We’ve been expecting you. (generated by Midjourney)

Introduction

Imagine this scenario: You receive an email or LinkedIn message from someone you may not know or haven’t even met in person. They send you their résumé and ask for a referral at your company. What would you do?

Not much? To be honest, you’ll highly-likely ignore their request and ghost them.

But why? Because while asking for your help they’ve overlooked a few steps, such as:

  • Checking whether you are available and willing to assist,
  • Making sure they are approaching the right person,
  • Or, inquiring about your suitability for their request.

And even more important than those, they are selfish; they haven’t built a relationship, and accrued enough goodwill to be able to ask help.

Would you want a selfish colleague in your team? Probably not.

Would you want someone who does not know how to approach people, and who does not value others’ time in your team? Again; probably not.

You Don’t Kiss on a First Date

Essentially, they’re attempting to rush things and make a “first date kiss.”

Unfortunately, that’s not how networking works. This approach is likely to fail.

You may believe that reaching out to people indiscriminately increases the chances of success—it’s “a numbers game” after all. However, in reality, this strategy has flaws because it’s dishonest.

Let’s see how we can improve our approach.

Admit and Recognize that People are Busy

When it comes to networking, there is no free lunch. The more you give in to your relationships, the more you’ll get value in return.

Everyone has their responsibilities, agendas, and priorities. So, don’t send cold emails and cold LinkedIn messages to people and expect them to respond back.

Know them; nurture a professional relationship with them.

If you don’t act professionally and put in the effort needed, don’t get surprised when your messages are ignored or even result in being blocked or reported 99% of the time.

Also if you don’t act professionally, why would you assume that they will find you suitable for a professional work environment? That’s contradictory in itself.

Consider the Risks for the Person Referring You

Referring someone for an open position can seriously affect their reputation within the company if the person gets the job but is not a good fit. Often, this risk outweighs any benefit (including referral bonuses) they may receive if you get an offer.

That’s why you must show that you are more than capable of the role. And that, again, boils down to nurturing a professional relationship with the person months before, NOT at the last minute when you see that fancy job advertisement.

Build relationships before you need them.

Understand the Significance of Your Request

You’re asking a stranger to invest their time evaluating your skills, abilities, and credentials. You might even expect feedback, and maybe ask them to pass along your resume to parties. That’s a nontrivial demand.

Again, nobody will spend any time doing that if you haven’t already established a well-founded professional relationship.

And, it’s not about being rude; it is out of necessity: People have so little time and so many things to do; so why should they help you if they don’t have confidence and trust in you.

And to nurture the confidence and trust, you need to build a professional relationship. And that takes time, so you’ll need to start building your relationships way before you initiate your job search.

Embrace Networking

That’s the third time I’m mentioning networking. I think it highlights its importance.

Effective networking requires dedication, effort, and time. It requires mutual respect and understanding. Simply sending a “please refer me” message as if you were a door-to-door salesperson won’t cut it.

Conclusion

In today's interconnected world, networking holds importance. Especially when stakes are so high, the bar is raised to the moon, and everyone is hiring (or wanting to hire) A players.

Treat the process with care and thoughtfulness, and you’ll find that your connections are more fruitful and more likely to lead you toward the opportunities you seek.

Avoid being someone who alienates allies by making attempts at connection without building the necessary foundations first.

Invest in building connections, grasp the subtleties of engagement, and approach your networking endeavors with genuine empathy and respect. The rewards will be significant. Your career will flourish as a result.

Now, go get that job! And, may the source be with you 🦄.