Column: Networking impatience leads to frustration
Greg Peters | Contributor
"Daddy, I'm ready to go swimming!"
I opened one eye to see the smiling face of my daughter, Kaylie, already decked out in her swimsuit. Then I tracked over to the clock next to the bed.
Have you ever tried to explain to a 4-year-old why, on vacation, 7 a.m. is most decidedly not an appropriate time for swimming? Can't be done. Four-year-olds are not particularly patient about such things.
New networkers can sometimes have the patience of a small child when it comes to their expectations of the connections in their network. They "put on their swimsuit" — attended the events, followed up, went on the one-to-ones, etc. They've even passed a few referrals of their own.
Now, when do they get to go for a swim?
Unfortunately for the 4-year-old in all of us, networking just simply takes longer than that. Being impatient with your connections isn't likely to move things any faster, either. There are a number of reasons that things might be taking longer than you want.
- You never asked. When the person across the table asked "How can I help?", you didn't have an answer. You can hardly blame them for not helping if they don't know how to help.
- You weren't specific enough. Maybe you said something when they asked, but your request sounded like "Anyone who wants to buy my stuff." Be specific with who they are, how we would recognize them, and why they might want to buy (assuming you are asking for a referral).
- You asked for too much. When someone wants to help, you have to make sure that the request is within their comfort level. If they've just met you, and they still want to help, you might need to tone down the request. Perhaps instead of asking them to refer their mother to you, you might instead ask for advice on connecting with the senior market in the area.
- Your request has a low frequency. Even if they trust you enough to refer their mother, it may be that your service doesn't come up that often. Most people don't switch accountants on a regular basis. That means you need to be at the top of the list in a lot of people's minds when those rare events do show up.
- You are asking the wrong people. If you want to meet the CEOs of international companies, probably the local chamber of commerce isn't the right place to go. You need to make sure you are meeting (and helping to succeed) the kind of folks who can connect you to your success.
Most of the time, my 4-year-old can get away with her impatience because she's just so darn cute — though at seven in the morning even that doesn't sail very far. As adults and good networkers, we need to understand that first we need to follow all the right behaviors, then we need to wait for our network to work in its own time.
Being impatient won't make it run any faster, and it will only make us miserable in the meantime.