Networking not working? Hint: It’s not the virus

Networking not working? Hint: It’s not the virus

We have all heard it: 

  • 80% of jobs are captured through networking
  • I’ve never advertised, it’s all networking
  • I’m not an alcoholic, I’m networking

Every human being thinks more about himself than anyone else. Dale Carnegie said, “Remember that a person’s name is to that person, the sweetest and most important sound in any language.”

Can networking be the best way to win friends and influence people?

It can be all about networking. Many times it isn’t.

Like the Griswoldesque neighbor who briefly feigns interest in what you have to say only to let you know how wonderful his life is. He is smarter than Biden and Trump put together and his great ____________ (fill in the blank with anything he describes as awesome) can’t be found in any store or Amazon. Let’s call him Norman Networker.

Norman is a walking, breathing Facebook post of his best breakfast with his best sunrise in the best venue on Earth. Networking for Norm is an opportunity to shine a bright light on himself. He craves the Likes, Hearts and an alphabet of smiley emojis.

Exhale Norman! Networking in a job search isn’t meeting for coffee without a plan for more than bagels. Sliding your resume across the table and sheepishly asking, “what do you think? Know anyone who’s hiring?” Norman, Norman, Norman… it’s YOUR job to figure out what you want to be when you grow up.

Norm isn’t networking at all. After the obligatory response, “if something comes up, I’ll be sure and let you know” Norm will have a tough time getting a follow-up meeting.

I’d like to share these tips with Norman Networker, but he doesn’t listen:

  • Find a WHY for both of us. Research how a networking meeting could be of value to both parties. Networking is not just about you.
  • Treat a networking meeting like it could be worth a million dollars. Send a formal meeting request, forward simple agenda clarifying expectations. Confirm every appointment, you make the reservation, be early.
  • Have a stop time as well as a start time. You may have nowhere to go and a long time to get there but respect others’ schedule.
  • Prepare an advance list of people and companies that you can help with. Then share your needs.
  • Ask smart questions to position yourself as someone who knows what matters.
  • Don’t ask to pick my brain, that’s creepy and gross.
  • Take notes. It’s a sign of respect and creates an easy follow-up on who committed to do what.
  • Execute on recommendations and every next step. Do everything you said you would do.
  • Copy or BCC your source on every referral outreach. Keep them in the loop. 

Norman Networker won’t follow any of these recommendations. He hasn’t stopped talking.

Mark Gonska is the Career Accelerator. For his super-secret networking hack, reach him at