You would think with all the platforms out there that make networking so easy that people would be better at it. Unfortunately bad behavior still runs rampant and I get to see more than my fair share of networking implosions.
There are a few key areas you need to royally screw up if you want to achieve “debacle” status on networking. This post is a guide for how you can most efficiently and effectively burn bridges, annoy people, and destroy your network as fast as possible. This is NOT about how to properly maintain your network as explained in this post (CLICK HERE) – this is about apocalyptic network destruction.
Let’s define the target area you’re going to drop bombs all over. Your network is the sum of all relationships (personal and professional) you’ve built over the years as well as the relationships of those individuals with their friends and colleagues. I’m going to show you not only how to destroy your own network but also how you can best damage the networks of the people in your network. We’re talking second-degree of separation destruction here folks. And for some bonus tips on how to further destroy your network, read this post too by clicking here.
So let’s get on with the network nuking…
The first way to start destroying your network is to use people. Do it shamelessly. You should never reach out to anyone to see how they’re doing. Instead wait until you need something for yourself then send out the emails asking for help. Subject lines like “I just lost my job. Can you hire me?” work especially well for this purpose.
Better yet, if someone in your network is dumb enough to help you when the only time you ever reach out is when you need help, mark them as a sucker in your contact database. Be sure to regularly ask them for stuff without ever offering to help them in any way. You already know picking up the phone is a key to successful networking (as described in this post). Just pick up the phone and ask them for assistance. If their assistance does help you get what you needed, be sure not to let them know things worked out and for goodness’ sake, DON’T send them a thank you note.
Waste Their Time
Be sure when you ask someone in your network for help (as described above) that you make it as inconvenient as possible for them to help you. Insist on meeting on dates that are difficult for them to make work (but since they’re suckers they’ll rearrange their calendar to help you). Whatever you do, DO NOT FOLLOW THIS ADVICE on how to properly network over coffee.
Once you do arrange the networking meeting, be sure to show up at least 10-15 minutes late. DO NOT under any circumstance call ahead to let them know you’ll be late and be sure not to apologize for your tardiness. You want to reinforce to the people in your network that you are more important than they are and you’re doing them a favor by giving them the opportunity to help you out.
When you do meet with them, be sure to talk about nothing but how they can help you. Don’t bother asking how they’re doing or if you can help them. That’s a waste of your precious time. Just be as much of a vampire as you can and leech every last thing you can out of your contact.
Don’t Follow Up
When your contact asks you to follow up with them and get them details like resumes or contact info, do NOT send it in a timely manner. Heck, don’t even send it at all. The people in your network are smart and will take the initiative. They’ll proactively go out to LinkedIn and find your profile URL for themselves. They’ll then actively send that profile out to all the other people who could possibly help you.
When they do make introductions for you to other people in their networks, it’s time to go with the nuclear option. Do NOT, no matter what, reach out to the person your contact has introduced you to. Wait for that new contact to reach out to you instead. It reinforces the perception that you’re busy and therefore must be in high demand.
Also, do NOT follow up with your contact either. Don’t send a thank you note to express appreciation for the new introduction. Simply ignore their assistance as if they never helped you in the first place.
Mess Up Your Contact’s Reputation
When you meet the new contact who is a friend or colleague of your primary contact, be rude and give off a bad impression. Talk badly about your contact so your new contact will know what a moron their friend is. Treat the new contact as rudely as possible. Be late to meetings (or better yet, miss a meeting), be unresponsive to calls and emails, and generally annoy the new contact as much as possible. These actions will inflict maximum damage upon your contact’s network which is the primary objective here.
If your new contact is dumb enough to hook you up with a job or is stupid enough to become a customer of yours, be sure not to thank your original contact. Heck, all they did was put their reputation on the line for you with the intro. They really don’t deserve much in the way of follow-up or gratitude.
So there it is folks. I guarantee if you follow any of the above guidance you can quickly achieve new heights of networking disasterdom. Before long you’ll have no one on Earth willing to help you and you can go about your business without all those annoying LinkedIn invites, job offers, and customer inquiries coming your way. That will leave you tons of time for sleep and Bon Bons on the couch while watching Dr. Phil.
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NOTE: I know at least ONE person will read the above and miss the fact that I’m advocating the exact OPPOSITE of these actions. If you’re that person and you choose to take the above advice literally and actually follow it, you deserve to destroy your network because clearly you’re not very bright.