Networking fail

Since my dad is a stereotypical businessman, I have always known the importance of “networking.” I’m terrible at it, but I know it’s important. So before graduating I set up 40 informational interviews with planners in the Cities to learn a little, and just in general get on everyone’s radar screens. It wasn’t fun or pretty, but I went through with it. (And, at the conference a couple of weeks ago, I ran into someone I had spoken with. She vaguely remembered me.)

My old boss at the City is very much a traditional lawyer-type and operates in a very specific way. It’s hard to describe, but I’ve come to expect and understand his behavior. Which includes how he set me up to introduce me to a guy thinking about moving to Fargo. I got an email from my old boss, with this guy cc’d, saying that we should talk. So I get this guy on the phone, and I am pretty sure he violated 50% of the General Niceties of Networking.

First, he sounded bored. He may have been scanning his email while we were talking.

Second, he was not upbeat at all. It was a story that I’m very familiar with: he finished law school and had been working at Legal Aid, but needed to do landscaping work and was just sick of not having a real job. Hey, I get it. Nick went through the exact same thing (which I told the guy). But he sounded so sad about it, which really brought down my ability to be helpful. “I mean, I just wanna make some money, you know?” Um, yes, I do. Now I feel awkward.

He also didn’t have a real purpose to the call. Part of this is likely from the way my old boss pushed him in my direction, I think. I am not a lawyer, so this guy (who is probably 3 years older than me) knew he wouldn’t get a job from me and likely figured I was a worthless call, but since this Tom guy told him to, he was going to talk with me. So it was a wasted experience all around.

I am looking forward to the day when I am a real resource to young professionals, instead of grasping around for employment like I am doing now, but this was just not my opportunity to do that.


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