Advanced networkers empathise. Are you using all your brain when networking?

Do you use all of your brain when networking? Some networkers think that getting referrals is all it takes to network effectively.  This week I explain why it’s important to have a giving mentality, an example of what can go wrong if you don’t empathise and why empathy is everything.

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This week I’ll talk about John, who has trouble generating referrals

The trouble is John thinks he is a great networker so it’s everyone else’s fault that he doesn’t get referrals. I remember a conversation I had with John a couple of years ago when he told me he gave great introductions yet no-one introduced him in return. He was certain that he provided more referrals than he received so I did a little research on his public profile.

The first thing I found that indicated what was going on was that his LinkedIn connections were hidden. There’s nothing wrong with keeping connections close to your chest yet it gives the impression of a closed networker. And perhaps people will not open their contact book if they think that you will hesitate to introduce them. I don’t agree with that thinking yet I accept it is the way some people think. Which is why it’s important to go first and make an introduction – especially if few other people do.

What else are they doing wrong?

The next alarm bell rang when John stopped associating with a group that he had got to know over a two year period. Just when the relationships were being cemented. More evidence that he was not happy with the way other people were performing. So I asked the question. “Why did you leave?” “They weren’t referring me” was the reply. Do you think he asked them why?

It appears that there was no soul searching so I decided to test the water when the opportunity arose. I gave John a referral. He was the right guy for the job as he had experience in the industry my contact operated in. I provided the details after discussing with both sides and requested an update when they had met. Later, I asked John what was happening and he advised that there had been a glitch, things had stalled yet the client was fully informed and a date for further progression had been agreed.

If only that were true. My instinct kicked in and whilst I’ve read “The Speed of Trust” I still obey my instinct. I made the effort to ask my contact if he was happy with progress and he was not. He had paid a fee and not received what he was expecting. I was pretty annoyed and told John he must resolve the situation at the earliest. He told me that someone had let him down. This showed that he wasn’t willing to accept responsibility.

How can using the left and right side of the brain help ?

When I actioned my LinkedIn mail later that day I found a request for an introduction from John. I nearly fell off my chair and politely reminded him that he needed to recover the first situation and let me know the outcome. He should have made sure he did a good job before moving onto the next. Putting himself “in my shoes” would have told him that.

Secondly, taking responsibility helps enormously when building credibility. There were a number of missed opportunities to keep me informed, keep the client informed and request help when he was in danger of not fulfilling his duty. If he had real empathy with the client he would have realised it was a necessity as things unravelled.

Finally, when things went wrong he could have examined the part that he played in them. This is where the most valuable lesson can be learned. When things go wrong look in the mirror, not out of the window.

I like John. I know where I went wrong in the situation. I’m still not certain John is using the part of his brain that matters most. If you’re name is John, this is not about you, the name has been change to protect the innocent.

Wrap up: Networking is a learned skill and practice will help you build your networking muscle. I agree with the academics who say networking is one of the few activities that engages the left and right side of the brain. You use the left for working out how you can help fellow networkers and the right for empathising and therefore engaging correctly.

Top Tip: Keep people informed of progress and blockages. Not incessant updates, just let them know when things have changed, especially if things go wrong. Then further referrals will follow, even if things don’t go smoothly.

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5 Responses to Advanced networkers empathise. Are you using all your brain when networking?

  1. Jason,

    Thanks for sharing.

    It’s amazing how expectation, (some would call it greed), can be prioritised over credibility – at the expense of future potential rewards.

    We live in a time poor & fast paced society and, whilst impatience can be rife, it’s those who think of both the referrer’s credibility and customer’s needs first that will always win. Quite simple really.

    Great story – and even better – as I’m a John, I know it’s not me! Phew! lol

    Extraordinary networking!


    • Jason says:

      Thanks John, credibility is so important. And time is one of the few things we all have yet are running out of. It’s best to use it wisely.

      Great comment!

      Take care,


  2. Dinesh says:

    Hello Jason:

    Good One.
    Its all about getting social.
    Just being on social tools will not help.


  3. Pingback: Oscar Winning Networking – Will ladies win all the awards? « Business Networking

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