We all know the importance of developing deep and meaningful one-on-one relationships in business. The people you work with today will inevitably be the people you work with in the future, and you never know when these will be the very individuals who are in a position to help you move forward in your career. Therefore, you will always be well-served by treating new contacts with dignity and respect.
This sounds like a no brainer, and yet I see professionals sabotage potential fruitful relationships every day by starting off on the wrong foot. Usually, this involves asking for something inappropriate or that the new contact can’t possibly deliver – putting the contact on the spot and possibly insulting her.
The classic networking example involves an individual who calls a seasoned professional in her target field and immediately tries to suck him dry of any and all contacts and job opportunities of which the professional may be aware. The professional doesn’t know this individual from Adam, so why would he drop everything and risk his own reputation to get her a job?
Unreasonable requests made of a networking contact are certain to send that contact running in the opposite direction. The relationship will be far more likely to succeed if you ask for something that’s easy to deliver, like a 30 minute informational interview in which the professional shares his career story and insights.
Keep this in mind as you seek out new vendors and consultants as well. Do your homework before introducing yourself with a request, especially one that involves the new contact doing spec work or work in exchange for exposure. Depending on how things are done in your industry and how much experience the contact has, too tall of an order could leave a bad taste in her mouth and permanently sour the relationship.