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Networking 201: The Referral Meeting: Close

This is the fourth and last part of a series on what I call the referral meeting. You may know it as networking. If you haven’t read the first three (The Introduction, Information Gathering [two on this one]), go back and do that, or this won’t mean a great deal to you.

Okay, so we’ve been through the introduction, in which you made me comfortable with the concept and we have agreed on expectations for the meeting, and you have gathered information regarding my industry, my company, my thoughts about your profile (see the post on the profile), and we’ve gotten you qualified for one or more jobs. Now it’s time to finish the meeting.

“This has been really helpful tome,” you will say, “I really appreciate the time and information you’ve given me. I’m curious. If our roles were reversed, and you were the one looking for a job, how would you proceed in a search like this?”

Note that at this point you are telling me you’re looking for a job. So, if you told me at the beginning of our meeting that you weren’t looking fora job, you were just looking for information, you’ve lied, haven’t you? Never, never, never tell the person you’re meeting with that you aren’t looking for a job. You have no reason to be there if you aren’t!

Almost everyone you talk with will say, “Oh, I’d do just what you’re doing. You’ve got to get out there and talk to people!” That’s not why you asked the question. But, what’s going through their mind right now is, “Geez, if I had to get a job, what would I do? Who would I talk to?” That is why you asked the question. Question number two is, “If you were me, who would you want to talk to?” The whole point of question number one is to cause the answer to question number two to surface at about the time you arrive there.

Now, there is one big, very big,problem associated with, “Who would you want to talk to?”

In 2009, after the economy tanked,I gave 51 public talks on job-hunting. As a result, I have well over 700 connections in LinkedIn.

So now it’s apparent to me, the person you just asked, “Who would you want to talk to,” that you expect me to go mentally through everyone I know while you sit there and stare at me! Trust me, that will not happen!

What I will do is say, “Gee, let me think about that, and I’ll get back to you.”

My nose just grew. I just lied. I didn’t mean to do it, and I don’t even realize at the moment that I’ve lied.But I just did.

We finish our meeting, and you go your way. And I go back to my day and my life.

Days pass. No phone call from me.Finally, you call me to follow up. My secretary tells me you’re on the line,and I panic! Guilt. I didn’t do what I said I would do. But then I realize, there’s still time. If I just come up with a couple of people for you to talk with, I can call you back, and you’ll never know I didn’t do what I said I would do.

“Take a message,” I say.

But do I then think about people you should meet with? No, I’ve just bought time. I go back to doing what I was doing before you called.

Days pass. No phone call from me.So, once again, you work up your courage and call me. My secretary tells me you’re on the phone.

This is not good. Now you obviously know that I didn’t do what I said I would do. I can’t speak to you without being embarrassed. Well, there’s a simple solution to that little problem. I will never speak to you again!

“Take a message,” I say. And Hell will freeze before I return that phone call. If I see you in the grocery store, I’ll run for the loading dock!

You have just burned a contact, and it’s your fault, because you asked me a question that was way too big for me to answer, and made me lie!

The “who do you know” question isn’t one huge question. It’s lots of little questions. “Earlier you said I’d be qualified to be administrative manager. Are you responsible for that function?”

“No, Charlie is,” I reply.

“Oh, great! I’ll bet Charlie could be really helpful to me. How could we arrange for me to meet with Charlie? Who else on the management team would you suggest I meet with? What about your CPA firm? What about your attorneys? What about your competition?”

You aren’t bugging me by doing this. You’re helping me think.

Okay, last question.

“Thanks again for meeting with me.This has been really helpful to me. It occurs to me though, as I get out there and talk to more people, and get more information, I’ll wind up with a couple of questions I’ll wish I had asked you. Would be okay on occasion, and again I promise not to abuse the privilege, but if I have a couple of questions, could I give you a call?”

“No problem,” I’ll stay. “Please stay in touch with me. I’d like to know how it’s going.”

With my agreement for you to call,the meeting’s over. It’s time for you to leave.

And that’s the referral meeting.