Are You Building And Nurturing A Network? Or Falling Victim To Strategic Errors? Part 3

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I often talk with clients about networking, both in person and online through social media sites like LinkedIn. In this series, I’ll write about some of the most common errors I see. Strategic Error: Be unresponsive or unappreciative.

This should go without saying: if you contact someone, and that person responds—in any way, shape, or form—then acknowledge his response with thanks.

As you build a professional network, you will be reaching out to people you know as well as to people you don’t know. These people are busy and their time is valuable—even if they don’t charge $1000 per hour, their time is important to them. Most of the people you reach out to will owe you nothing—not even their time.

Some individuals will not respond to your attempts to connect, answer your questions, or direct you to a better resource. Some will.

When someone takes the time to respond to your communication, then the proper thing to do is to thank him. Even he did not decide to connect with you, did not answer your questions, did not direct you to another resource, or did not otherwise provide the information you were hoping to obtain. Even if he responded to you with a canned email.

Your thanks does not need to be effusive. A simple but genuine, “Thank you for getting back to me! I appreciate your time.” is often sufficient. The key is to recognize that the individual—by responding—did you a favor, even if it was not the favor you hoped for. He helped you, even if not in the way you’d hoped.

Remember too that by being thankful and appreciative, you keep the line open to develop a relationship with that contact and for further communications down the road. On the other hand, if you fail to acknowledge his help, then you may be shutting down that potential contact forever.