Column: What if they don't want to network?
Photo by Radu Andrei Dan
They blow you off.
Maybe their receptionist takes the message and they don't get back to you. Maybe they promise to get back to you, but never call. Maybe they just tell you that they're busy and to call them back another time. For whatever reason, the connection is weak and there's a good chance of it disappearing entirely. What should you do?
With the exception of some very rare situations, just let it go. I know it might be hard, but let's look at the possibilities.
- You left a message and they didn't receive it. Either they didn't check their email, or their receptionist's message slip got lost in the pile on their desk, or their answering machine burst into flames. Something got in the way of them knowing that you had contacted them. You can try calling them again in a week or so, but by that point, you are almost moving into "cold call territory." They may vaguely remember meeting you, but unless you have something specific that they can latch on to, you might as well have picked their name out of the phone book.
- You left a message and they did receive it. For whatever reason — they didn't have time, or they didn't like you, or they just don't remember you — they didn't get back to you. You have to ask yourself at that point, if they aren't good at returning messages to you, will they treat the referrals you give them the same way? Also, if you try to contact them again, you may come off as pushy or desperate or both. Never a good way to start a relationship.
- You get through to them and they can't spare a moment for pleasantries, but tell you to call back next week. It's likely that they don't remember you and think you are a cold caller. This is probably them trying to blow you off, politely. Of course you can call them back next week again, but the familiarity level won't be any better for a week of waiting. Also, if they are blowing you off, they aren't in a mental place right now to be a good networker.
It's hard sometimes to let go of the potential that every new acquaintance represents. Still, the best thing you can do is try to make the connection and then let them do what they will. Remember, for every potential connection that falls through this week, there are four more at the next networking event who will love to be a part of a network as powerful as yours.
And who knows? One of those four might be one of your past "failures" who's now in a better place to network.