Many of us fear networking. We often think people will feel put upon or even angry if we ask them for help. And that may be true for perhaps 20% of the people out there. For various reasons, they just don’t want to be bothered.
That means that about 80% of the people out there want to help you.
Around 20% of the people out there are excited to help. They are honored that you asked. They will happily introduce you to others. They may even follow up with you to check in and offer more insights or connections.
The remaining 60% are also happy to help if you make it easy for them. Here are some “make it easy” steps you can follow. Instead of asking when they are available, give them a list of specific times to choose from. Pick a location (including over the phone or video chat) that is convenient for them. Promise and follow through on your promise to keep conversations focused and brief (say, twenty minutes for a phone call, thirty minutes for a coffee, an hour for a lunch, or whatever works for them). Be prepared to go over that time if they wish. Prepare your questions prior to the meeting. Catch up with them; learn what they are focused on this quarter and this year. Offer any information or connections that they might find helpful. Be warm and friendly.
Above all, plan on most people wanting to help you.
In your corner,
PS: Because we likely can’t know whether a person is in the first 20%, the last 20%, or the middle 60%, use the “make it easy” steps for everyone.
PPS: When you bump into someone who doesn’t want to help, just graciously thank them for their time. No need to burden ourselves with judgements of them or us.